EDMONTON, Alberta (VN) — After six days and 536 miles, Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) lost the Tour of Alberta by 6 seconds Monday. But his runner-up status to Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) was largely determined in less than 25 minutes of racing and a split-second upset.
Yates’ Orica team was the prohibitive favorite in the opening team time trial. It was the last of the 15 teams to start the 12-mile route as the third-year event unfolded with a windy evening time trail in Grande Prairie.
But with Svein Tuft as the leader of the team prepping for the upcoming TTT at the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia, Orica faltered. The eight-rider squad had the fastest early split, but finished with five riders, .74 seconds behind Trek, and with Mollema assuming the first race lead.
“We were pretty disappointed with the TTT,” said Yates of his squad, a perennial top-performing TTT grand tour team. “We came up a bit short. But in general we did what we came here to do.”
The 23-year-old Yates, who wore the No. 1 bib in the field of 120 riders, eventually won the best young rider’s jersey. Orica was one of five UCI WorldTeams in the race, and Yates was a pre-race favorite base primarily on his win a month ago in Clásica San Sebastián.
“I was disappointed to not take the leader’s jersey,” said Yates, who trailed Mollema for the final four days.
While Orica didn’t get the opening day jersey, the squad’s strength was showcased quickly in stage 2. With the team controlling field in the final few miles, Michael Matthews claimed a stage win — his seventh of the season — and gave the team the race lead for a day.
“We really put a beating on the peloton,” said Matthews. “They gave me a really strong leadout and we controlled it.”
It was the squad’s last dominant moment.
Mollema regained the lead with the first of his two runner-up mountain stage finishes in the Canadian Rockies in stage 3 and he maintained it for the rest of the race. Yates finished third in stages 3 and 4 and couldn’t narrow his six-second deficit.
The event was determined via bonus times on the final day last year. And there were bonus times of 10, 6, and 4 seconds in Monday’s final circuit race stage. Yates didn’t seriously contest for the final-day victory.
“It was different; everyone knows the cobbles, the sand, the mud, whatever aren’t my favorite,” Yates said of the stage 5 finish that included about 11 miles of dirt sections. “But we had everyone looking after me.”
In the final stage, Tuft powered the peloton at the front, steadily reducing a five-rider breakaway with one lap left and simultaneously bringing Yates closer to the front.
“We knew it was going to come down to a sprint, so there wasn’t much I could do,” said Yates. “Yeah, maybe I could have gotten 50 meters or something, but there was a big group at the front.”