Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) will not let a three-minute time trial loss deter him, promising to “give it everything” as the 2019 Giro d’Italia races towards the mountains.
The race covers its first high-mountain stage on Friday with the summit finish at Lago Serrù. Yates, winner of the 2018 Vuelta a España, will need as much strength as possible to overthrow race favourite Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
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“I’ve worked too hard to give up already now, so I’ll give it everything I got,” Yates said on the first of two rest days. “If I come up short then that’s OK.”
Yates spoke to the press on one of the race’s few sunny days so far. Afterwards, he and the Australian WorldTour team rode along the eastern seafront near their base in Riccione.
Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) leads the Giro d’Italia after nine days but Roglič sits second overall and is seen as the virtual classification leader. Yates lost time on three days to Roglič: in the opening uphill time trial (19 seconds), due to a crash on stage four (16 seconds) and the biggest chunk in the long 34.8km time trial on Sunday (3-11 minutes).
In a sense, it is good for Yates. He can now do what he loves to do the best – attack.
Last year, he was criticised for attacking too much so early in the race and he potentially paid for that in stage 19 when he slipped out of the classification lead and Chris Froome rode to the overall title.
“But it’s not just me in that position [of needing to attack], there are still a lot of other guys who are down as well,” Yates continued. “Roglič is looking very impressive, everyone is going to have to attack him.
“It’s not just me who’ll have to make up time. I can see it being very aggressive, maybe not in the immediate days but as soon we hit the mountains I think it’s going to be a very fast race.”
Behind Roglič, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) trails at 1-44 minutes, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) at 1-55, Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) at 2-18, Yates at 3-46, Miguel Ángel López (Astana) at 4-39 and Mikel Landa (Movistar) at 4-52. Others like Landa and López will have to deploy similar tactics if they want to win the race.
“You can look at it that way, we all have one thing in common, we need to make up a lot of time. For sure those guys will be aggressive, and they are normally aggressive anyway, especially those teams,” explained Yates.
“[Roglič] doesn’t look like slowing down right now, he looks very impressive, and I don’t know. Obviously for myself, I hope he does!”
Yates gave no indication why he suffered so much time loss on stage nine to the Republic of San Marino. He had a plan to hold his ground on the flats, which he did, and to go hard on the climb, but could not follow through with the latter and when asked why, he said: “Your guess is as good as mine.”
The 26-year-old Briton and the team appeared in good spirits despite the loss. He and sports director Matt White will discuss a plan in the next two days for the many Alpine stages to come.
“We really need to wait until I get there and see how my body responds,” Yates said.
“In a way, I’ve not been doing anything here, I’ve been in the wheels for eight days. I’ve done one effort before yesterday, which was the prologue, and all the other time, I haven’t touched the wind yet. So if you look at it that way, I should have enough energy to last, but it all depends on the situation and how the race is going, and how my legs respond now.”