Adam Yates, riding for CC Etupes in France, finished a fine third overall in the prestigious Tour de Franche-Comté, winning a stage and winning the Best Under-23 rider into the bargain.
The race – won by Julien Guay (Sojasun Espoir) – is a hilly, five-stage event held on the French-Swiss border, close to the team’s headquarters. So, we’re guessing there was some pressure then Adam?
“Yeah, there was some pressure but not stupid amounts, although it was important enough for us to skip Ronde de l’Isard and the club president even offered me a new plasma TV if I won overall, so it was definitely an objective for the team!” said Yates.
CC Etupes is the team seen by some as a feeder for the FDJ pro team and in recent years has seen Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) and Thibaut Pinot and Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) race in its colours. It was a team which, a decade ago, had a clear out of old mercenaries and pot hunters with bad habits and install a new regime of developing young riders. The team has an approach to training that is among the more modern in the sport, though tactically, on the road, it seems a bit more free-wheeling, as Yates explained.
“At the start of the race we didn’t really have leader and that’s been true for the last few races as well. Normally we just try get a couple of guys in the front at the start and it usually sorts itself out from there, once it really kicks off. Whoever’s feeling the best then gets full support if they need it!”
Happily for Yates – who has been training on the Planche des Belles Filles climb which featured in the Tour de France last year – he was the man in form who made it into the crucial break in the Franche Comte.
“The first two days were more of a ‘get in the right move’ situation and then the last few were more of a selection on the climbs. The first day was the crucial day and all the team missed it! We had me and Thomas Bouteille in an earlier move but it wasn’t to be and the next group to go away gained 1-40, just like that. But overall I’m happy coming out with a stage win in my pocket and third overall in GC as well – with a fancy Festina watch for the Under 23 jersey winner!” Result, indeed.
Yates’ next race is the Boucles de la Marne, a four stage race which is fairly flat and, as Yates put it “probably see me back on bottle duty. But after that it’s a big one for me, the Tour des Pays de Savoie (http://www.tourdespaysdesavoie.com/ ) between June 13-16.”
There’s plenty of video footage of the race on YouTube – some shot from the passenger seat of the CC Etupes team car (see below) – when Adam asks his Directeur Sportif Jerome Gannat (at 4-30 in the video) if he should work in the break. “Yeah, I asked him a second time hoping he’d say no so I could get an armchair ride to the finish,” laughed Yates.