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MORGAN HILL, California (VN) — In the midst of his push for the Amgen Tour of California overall, Adam Yates is keeping tabs on the Giro d’Italia and the fight for the Maglia Rosa. Adam’s twin brother Simon is currently winning the race.
“I’ve been getting up at six in the morning, even being jet-lagged still,” Adam Yates told VeloNews this week in California. “I’m enjoying it. It’s good to watch.”
Mitchelton-Scott sent Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves to the Giro this year, reserving Adam to lead the team’s Tour de France ambitions in the general classification. Adam finished fourth and claimed the best younger rider jersey there in 2016.
Now 25, both Yates brothers have aged out of the white jersey category. They’re in the big leagues now—it’s general classification or bust.
Adam had a strong start to his 2018 campaign—he won a stage and finished fifth overall at Tirreno-Adriatico. A crash at the Volta a Catalunya in early March threw his Tour de France prep off track. Yates crashed in the final kilometer of the race’s third stage. He immediately knew something was not right.
“I tried to get up and I couldn’t feel my legs,” Yates said.
The fall left Yates with a broken pelvis, an injury with serious ramifications for athletes who rely on their legs to make a living.
“When you have an injury like that, it’s not like when you break your collarbone or your arm,” Yates said. “You can’t go for a run, you can’t go for a swim, you have to sit on the couch for 10 days. And you have to slowly build again. I did a week on the home trainer after that, just pedaling, 50, 100 watts, just trying to pedal.”
The bad break came at a somewhat fortunate time. Yates had already planned to take a break in mid April, and the injury kept him off of the bicycle for two weeks. Once he returned to his bicycle the strength came back rapidly.
“I was in pretty good condition when I crashed, so 10 days off and another week on the home trainer, at the end of the day it’s not too long,” he said.
The Tour of California marked Yates’s first race since his crash. He was unsure of his level heading into the event. Thus far, he is pleased with his form.
Yates raced to third place on the stage 2 climb up Gibraltar Road, finishing 25 seconds down on stage winner Egan Bernal. He dropped to fifth overall after Wednesday’s stage 4 time trial, though still sits within striking distance of the GC at 1:07 down.
It’s a dynamic Yates will likely have to face for years to come. He’s a stellar climber, but time trials typically see him cede time to the bigger engines. His brother Simon is currently battling the same challenge at the Giro d’Italia, trying to snatch seconds from Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin before a long time trial later in the race.
Adam says he’s decided to accept his weaknesses. He doesn’t expect to suddenly become an expert against the clock.
“Everyone says, ‘You need to work on your TT,’ but the problem is, I do the same watts in the TT that I do in a climb. You can’t expect me to do an extra 50 watts on the flats out of nowhere,” he said. “That’s just how it is. You can work on positioning and train to be more aero but as it stands I’m pretty as it is, for a small guy anyway. It’s not so easy.”
This year’s Tour will mark Adam’s sixth career Grand Tour start. As was the case in 2016, he will likely be the team’s clearcut GC leader again. The team has other ambitions at the Tour—sprinter Caleb Ewan will target stage victories. The dueling ambitions will likely shape the team’s lineup of domestiques. Some riders will help Yates, others will work for Ewan.
So which Yates brother is strongest? Adam said he and his brother have historically be on equal level during their development as young pros. The results mostly bear that out. Prior to 2018 both brothers have twice finished inside a Grand Tour top 10. Adam won the Tour of Turkey in 2014; Simon won a stage of the 2016 Vuelta a España.
“He’s a little bit better at the time trials, probably a little bit quicker in the sprints, but other than that we’re pretty similar,” Adam said.
Should Simon win the Giro, all eyes will turn on Adam for the Tour. Adam acknowledges that he’s yet to hit peak form, however he’s not far away.
“I wasn’t far off the podium [in 2016],” he said. “I had a couple of a setbacks and one or two bad days, but I feel like I’m almost there. It’s just going to take a little bit more experience.”