Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) wants more time on his rivals even after 10 days in the pink jersey in which he has picked up three stages wins at the Giro d’Italia.
In Italy’s northeast Dolomites, Yates stormed away from his rivals to win stage 15. At nearly 18 kilometres out, he said “ciao” to an already distanced Chris Froome (Team Sky) and second overall Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
“I don’t know if it’s enough,” Yates said of his 2-11 advantage over Dumoulin with the time trial ahead on Tuesday.
“I wish I did know because I’d be a bit calmer. I’ve been trying to take time since the race started, and I’ve been very successful on many days, but my advantage can be wiped out in one day, in one TT.”
The one time that could make or break Yates’ Giro is the 32.4-kilometre flat stage from Trento to Rovereto after the rest day.
“I’m relaxed mostly, but to say I’m close to winning is difficult. Two minutes is not a lot, it sounds like a lot, but it’s not to a guy like Tom Dumoulin,” Yates continued
A rider like world champion Tom Dumoulin could eat well into Yates’s lead and turn the Giro around for a chance at a second consecutive Giro d’Italia title.
Yates took the pink jersey on the first summit finish to Mount Etna when team-mate Esteban Chaves won the stage. Yates then won in Gran Sasso, Osimo and Sappada. He said he is excited with the pink jersey run and Rome finish line on the horizon next Sunday.
“But I’m also nervous with the TT,” Yates continued. “I’m also relaxed because… Look, regardless of what happens now I’ve had a very successful Giro. Of course I came here to win the race, I’ll try my best, but I don’t know until after the TT.”
Yates is only the third rider after Eddy Merckx and Gilberto Simoni to win three stages in the pink jersey.
After losing time in the Jerusalem time trial on day one, Yates gained time on Dumoulin at every opportunity to build his pink jersey lead. Dumoulin, the 2017 winner, seemed ready to mount a comeback on the roads to Sappada when he sent his Sunweb men to the front to lead the race.
Once Froome faded, however, Yates took advantage. He won the stage with 41 seconds on Dumoulin and and also took bonus seconds
“It was hard day, especially after yesterday. Tom looked good. I don’t know what happened in the final, maybe he was working too much to chase me,” Yates continued.
“I don’t’ know what happened. He had his team on the front to ride the climb beforehand, he looked good. I don’t know, maybe he just had a bad day.”
He celebrated with three fist pumps against his chest, against the pink Castelli leader’s jersey.
“This celebration goes back a long way. I’ve done it for many years now. One is to back myself. At one point early in my career, I was hesitant, I was always unsure if my legs were good or not. I do this just to remind myself, I got this,” he explained.
“I have great legs, great feelings. The team has supported me superbly. There is no reason to be anything but confident.”