Adam Yates comes into the Vuelta a España 2021 as one of three potential leaders in the Ineos Grenadiers team but hopes that his freshness from not riding any other Grand Tours will play to his advantage.
Yates, who joined Ineos Grenadiers at the start of the season from Team BikeExchange, had a superb start to the year, but had an extended break after the Ardennes Classics before returning to take ninth in the Olympic road race which was won by his Ineos team-mate, Richard Carapaz.
Since then, the rider from Bury had a mediocre showing at the Clásica San Sebastián and a low result in the Vuelta a Burgos after a crash put him out of the GC battle, but he now comes to the Vuelta as a joint leader with Carapaz and 2021 Giro d'Italia winner, Egan Bernal.
Speaking in a pre-race press conference, Yates said the first Grand Tour with Ineos felt like 'a long time coming' after a long training build-up towards the Vuelta.
"It’s good. Feels like a long time coming, you know, I’ve been at the team almost a year now but it’s really good to get to these big races.
"I’m actually looking forward to it. I spent a long time training now. Feels like a really long time. I just want to get stuck in."
Yates showed that he can really battle with the best at the start of the year, winning the Volta a Catalunya ahead of team-mates Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte, as well as pushing Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) to the limit in the mountains at the UAE Tour.
Upon being asked if not riding any other Grand Tours this season will help him he said: "Yeah I hope so. A lot of people do the duo Giro-Vuelta or Tour-Vuelta on their programme. Not many people just do the Vuelta.
"Hopefully, I’m going to be fresher than everyone and going into the third week that will really make a difference, or at least that’s what we’re hoping."
The 29-year-old added that the formidable Ineos line-up for the Vuelta gave them more options and an advantage over the other teams in the race.
"We’ve got a super-strong team. A lot of leaders, but I think it just gives us options.
"We’ve seen in Grand Tours already this year that one crash can really derail a team, so having options, especially in this first week with potential for wind and for stuff to go wrong I think it is always better to have options."
The sheer amount of climbing on the Vuelta a España route will suit Yates, though he did concede that the two time trials bookending the race will be his and the team's weak point.
There are two at this year's race with a 7.1km prologue in Burgos to start the race and a 33.8km time trial on the final stage into Santiago de Compostela. This plays into the hands of defending champion and favourite, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who is the Olympic time trial champion.
"TTs are never going to be our forte, even the other guys," Yates said.
"We’re all small climbers. It's going to be difficult but the prologue is actually quite hard, which is better than having a pan flat one where you need more power.
"This one is a bit more technical and tricky so hopefully we don’t lose too much time and I think the same goes for the last TT as well. Even though it’s quite a long one, it’s a hard one with almost 700 metres of climbing. Tough ones and we’ll just do our best."
The Vuelta starts on Saturday, August 14 with the prologue around Burgos with the stage starting in the cathedral and the finish just outside. Yates chose an early start time so he could get his ride done and get back to the hotel as it's quite a late start.
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1