Simon Yates hopes to take advantage of his rivals’ distraction and promised to keep on fighting for the next week in the Giro d’Italia.
Mitchelton-Scott rider Yates, now an underdog in the race, grabbed an important morale boost on stage 14 by gaining 22 seconds on his rivals, after slipping further back on stage 13.
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He sits ninth overall at 5-28 minutes behind new race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar).
“I wasn’t able to go with the best guys yesterday,” Yates said back at the team bus explaining the Lago Sarrù climb from stage 13, when he lost 2-03 minutes. “I just rode the climb at my own pace, and that’s what I did today.
“They were also looking at each other in the finale. I took the opportunity to gain a few seconds. They’re also not looking at me, I’m more than five minutes behind. I’ll keep plugging away.”
Yates’ “plugging away” spirit may work with seven more stages left to race in the 2019 Giro d’Italia. Plenty of opportunities for him to fight back remain.
“I just relaxed a little bit more. Yesterday I was not with the best guys and I was very disappointed about that. Maybe it was a bit of relief off the shoulders. I have nothing to lose now — just keep fighting,” Yates added.
“I was still a little behind on the long climb. I was better than yesterday, which gives me some confidence.”
Yates fell behind on the second last San Carlo climb on stage 14 of the Giro but kept riding his pace. He chased with Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First) and rejoined the favourites, rode right past them, and gained time.
“It’s going in the right direction, and that’s always a good sign,” said head sports director, Matt White.
“There’s still a lot of racing ahead of us. Yesterday wasn’t a good day, but things change pretty quick in Grand Tours. And it’s a really positive sign for things to come.
“He rode a very intelligent climb. We know the power those guys were riding in the first kilometres was just unsustainable. He was never more than 15 seconds behind, he made a very calculated effort to catch those guys.
“We took some time and he’s got some morale. It’s more confidence and we’re going into the right direction. He’s back in the group that he belongs in. That’s going to help him in the coming week. This race isn’t finished, and there are a lot of hard stages to go. We have a horrible week next week, so who knows what can happen.”
Carapaz leads Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) by seven seconds and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) by 1-47.
“We have a long way to go,” said Yates when asked if the overall win was still within his reach.
“I will keep fighting anyway as long as I have the legs to do so.”