Time trial improvements give Simon Yates valuable confidence ahead of vital Giro d’Italia stage

The Briton says he expects Primož Roglič to be the danger man on the difficult stage nine time trial

Simon Yates’s time trial improvements gives him confidence heading into the Giro d’Italia‘s long time trial to San Marino on Sunday.

The race’s stage nine climbs to the Republic of San Marino, 34.8km from the coast in Riccione. The Mitchelton-Scott rider will face other overall contenders including Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).

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“It gives me great confidence, of course I don’t ever believe I’ll be as good as those specialists like Dumoulin and those guys,” Yates said referring to his time trial stage win in Paris-Nice this March.

“I won’t be that level of time triallist, I can’t put out that same amount of power, but I’ve been making big improvements, and with Paris-Nice, that gave me a lot of confidence that I can go to these time trials and do every well.”

At the French stage race, Yates beat Egan Bernal, Bob Jungels and Wilco Kelderman over 25.5 kilometres.

Confidence comes from that win, his first time trial win, and he takes it from other steps made, like the ability to manage a three-week stage race and come out on top as he did in the 2018 Vuelta a España.

Simon Yates en route to victory in the 2019 Paris-Nice time trial (Sunada)

The issue for Yates will be his “banged up” knee and stand-out favourite Roglič. The SlovenianAwon the first time trial to gain 19 seconds over eight kilometres in Bologna, and now leads Yates in the overall by 35 seconds.

“We saw already in the prologue, he’s really in great shape. You look at that as well, he took all the time on me in the flat section of the time trial. There is a long flattish section in the beginning tomorrow, of course we have the climb, but it’s a hard one to judge,” Yates said.

“I think Roglič [will be the danger man], he already showed himself in the time trial to be super strong, but the rest are also really good. I wouldn’t say anyone is really bad but I think it just depends on the day.

“I’m actually looking forward to stepping on the pedals a little bit rather than sitting in the bunch.”

After 22 kilometres, the stage begins to climb within the borders of San Marino. Yates believed that it was such an important stage that he took time to preview it, the only stage he previewed in the 2019 course.

“So let’s hope that’s a good thing,” he said.

“It’s difficult, there’s not much to say. It’s pretty straight forward, the climb is also solid, much harder than I was expecting, which is good for me obviously.”

Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) leads the race overall after an escape in stage six. Yates says he expects him to keep the pink jersey after stage nine, but his attention will be on his immediate rivals.

Roglič sits top in the virtual classification in 12th place at 5-24 behind Conti. He leads Yates by 35 seconds, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) by 39 and Miguel Ángel López (Team Astana) by 44 seconds. Team Ineos have Pavel Sivakov at 1-24 minutes behind.

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