Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) found himself without the requisite power as he climbed into the Republic of San Marino for the finish of stage nine of the Giro d’Italia 2019.
In the 34.8km time trial, he lost 3-11 minutes to stage winner and favourite Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and 2-06 minutes to Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
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“I had a bit of a stinker,” Yates said after finishing the time trial in heavy rain.
“I was going ok on the flat section there but when I tried to step on it once we reached the climb, I just didn’t have anything.”
Yates crashed in stage four and hurt his left knee but his team said they did not believe that was what cost him today. Perhaps he began too quickly, having been riding at Roglič’s speed in the flat opening sections before leaving Italy.
With his times losses, Yates dropped nine spots to 24th in the overall classification. Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) continues to lead but Roglič tops the favourites list for the eventual overall win.
Sitting second in the GC, the Slovenian has 1-44 on Nibali, 1-55 on Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), 2-18 on Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and 3-46 on Yates.
“It’s one of those things. We’ll have to come up with a new plan now, a new strategy and go from there,” Yates added.
The Brit won three stages and led the race for 13 days in the 2018 edition of the Giro, only fading with two stages remaining when Chris Froome made his now famous ride from the Finestre climb to win the race overall.
“We’re still early on in the race,” Yates continued. “We’ve only done one effort before today, and that was in the prologue, all of the other days have been flat and in the wheels.
“I’m looking forward to getting more and more into the mountains now to see what we can do.” The peloton will soon climb the high mountains, starting with stage 13 to Lago Serrù.
“It certainly puts us in an interesting situation,” Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White said. “We have to go over things in detail and change our plan accordingly.
“We have not done one climb yet in this Giro. If there is any Grand Tour that can turn around in an instant, it’s this one.”
White couldn’t make sense as to why Yates conceded so much time to his rivals, saying: “I have no explanation at all,” White said. “He went quite hard to the bottom of the climb, and he must have paid for it. We’ve just got to put it down as a bad day.
“We were expecting a similar time loss to what Nibali did. He wasn’t far off on the splits. And then he lost another 1-50. He never looked comfortable on the bike and couldn’t get his rhythm.”