Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), race leader in Tirreno-Adriatico, is playing down the prospect of an overall victory in two days despite aiming to take more time in the final mountain stage.
Yates leads the race by seven seconds on Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and 50 seconds on Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). On Saturday, he rode free on the tricky Marchigiano roads with classification rival Roglič to gain time on all of his rivals including Dumoulin.
“Tomorrow looks harder than today, especially the final, I think it’s going to be a similar race, up and down twisty roads but tomorrow finishes uphill,” Yates said.
“It’s going to be my last chance to gain some time especially on Roglič, because after that it’s a sprint stage and a TT. Tomorrow, I hope to have good legs and I can try something.”
Yates spoke after riding his bike to the press room. On the way, looking at his telephone, he watched twin bother Simon fight in Paris-Nice for the stage win. He arrived for the press conference and turned his attention back to Tirreno-Adriatico.
For the first time in years, the Tirreno-Adriatico organiser left out big summit finishes in exchange for difficult medium-mountain days. With two time trials, Yates’ Achilles’ heel, the overall classification seemed to be out of reach before the race began four days ago. Now, Yates is nearly home with the leader’s blue jersey.
He faces a medium-mountain day on Sunday to Recanti, a sprint stage on Monday and a final 10km time trial stage on Tuesday.
“It’s only me Roglič and Fuglsang in the final there and I think Fuglsang is already quite bit of time down due to the TTT. So tomorrow is the last chance to gain some time,” he said.
“[Roglic is] obviously going super-well but like I said at the beginning, I didn’t come here for the overall, I came here for a stage win, where I end up on the GC is where I end up on the GC, there’s not mountain stages or 10 to 15 kilometre climbs here. You can never gain a lot of time on short climbs.”
Yates is building for the Tour de France overall this year with his twin bother Simon aiming at the Giro d’Italia. Yates already placed fourth in the 2014 Tour.
“I’m riding Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and País Vasco with the goal of winning one of them. Tirreno is the race that suits me the least with time trial at end always, I’ll always lose a big chunk of time,” continued Yates.
“[Simon and I] made some progression and at the Ruta del Sol, I beat him by six or seven seconds, so I must be doing something right.”
Simon Yates won the Paris-Nice time trial two days ago and moved to 33rd overall today in Paris-Nice.
“We do TT work but it’s not easy when you weigh in at 60 kilograms. Considering that, I think we’re pretty good, and so we’ll keep working on it.”
Yates finished fifth overall in the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico behind winner Michał Kwiatkowski (Sky). Today, in the long 221-kilometre stage, he kept his lead over Slovenian Roglič, fourth in the 2018 Tour.
“It was like an Ardennes race, up and down all day, steep climbs, small and twisty roads,” Yates said. “I was in position when I needed to be when there was a dangerous moment and that was it, I saved a lot of energy before the final and did what I could.”
With more of the same tomorrow, anything could happen with Yates and Roglic locked in a tight classification battle.