ESCALDES, Andorra (VN) — Brit Adam Yates sits in a good place this Monday, the first rest day of the 2016 Tour de France. He leads the young rider competition and rides second overall at 19 behind Sky’s Chris Froome, but he says that he really wants a stage win.
Yates, only 23 and in his second Tour de France, began the race with the idea of winning a stage. That is still the same, but Orica – BikeExchange’s young talent now needs to take on the stars to do so.
Surrounded by journalists at the team’s hotel in Andorra, the principality tucked between France and Spain, he explained that he intends to take them on. “When I attacked the other day, when I crashed into the banner, I attacked the GC guys,” Yates said “Yesterday, I was in front with the GC guys. I’ve done it now. I’ve done it in the past. Why can’t I do it again? That’s all there is to it.”
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Yates placed top 10 in three stages in last year’s Tour at 22 years old. He won the Clásica San Sebastián one-day race afterward. In the build-up this year, he placed seventh overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné behind Froome.
Followers might recognize his name because an asthma medication stopped his twin brother Simon from racing the Tour. He re-starts in the Tour of Poland this month. They would also remember Adam Yates from his attack on the stars Friday, when he raced away to take the white jersey and crashed into the falling one-kilometer banner.
The stitches on his chin still stand out, but his performances should too. That day, the move awarded him the white jersey. He wore it Sunday when he attacked the group with Froome, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Richie Porte (BMC Racing), and Daniel Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step). He led that group to the finish at the Arcalís ski station and left many other stars, like Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) behind.
“I had much better legs yesterday,” Yates explained. “I have heard it is going to be cooler the next couple of days, so we will get a few easier days in.”
After the Tuesday and Wednesday stages, the Tour will be climbing again on Mont Ventoux. Yates could potentially race for the white jersey and a spot on the final Tour podium in two weeks, but he says that the overall isn’t a top priority.
“It’s nice, yes, but at the end of the day, if you win a stage you go down in history as a Tour de France stage winner. I’d prefer that than anything else,” Yates said. “I want a stage win. If you come fifth in a grand tour, it’s nice, but you don’t get to raise your hands in the air, and you don’t celebrate.”
Asked if he would take a third and a place on the Paris podium over a stage win, he said, “A third place would be all right!”
He said that he believes that Froome will put around four minutes into him in the upcoming two time trials. The other classification contenders like Porte and Martin may take less or finish at the same time, but van Garderen should gain time.
Over the winter, Yates worked with the Australian team to improve his aerodynamic position in hopes to continue to develop into a stage race and a grand tour winner. His problem, he says, is that he is small and cannot push the same watts as Froome or van Garderen.
“I just want to improve in general, really. Improve in climbing and time trialling, hopefully there’d also be a course one year where there’s a lot more climbing than time trialling,” he added.
“I showed in the past that if I’m on a good day I can fight with the GC guys. I don’t see why I can’t do it in the future. I’m always training and improving. I’m only 23 years old, the future’s all ahead of me.”