Orica-Scott rider said he attacked to take time in the overall standings
Despite coming into the day in 16th place overall, more than two minutes behind race leader Julian Alaphilippe, Yates said that his first thoughts were to attack to climb up GC and put himself in a better position going into a difficult final weekend, rather than chasing a stage win.
“I was not trying to win the stage,” Yates said after his win. “I was trying to take as much time back as possible as I had good legs today.”
The 24-year-old was able to take a lead of 45 seconds onto the final climb in Fayence, as a elite group led by Team Sky didn’t chase the Briton down.
“I might be a bit more closely marked now. One of the reasons I got away today was because I’m so far behind.
“There are a lot of guys closer and nobody was really watching me, but maybe they will be tomorrow and the day after.”
Yates sees opportunities to move further up the GC on tomorrow’s summit finish on the Col de Couillole, as well as on the final day around Nice, which features six classified climbs.
However, despite moving into eighth place overall, he is still 1-37 behind race leader Julian Alaphilippe, and thinks the Frenchman will be the one to take final victory, despite having three riders (Tony Gallopin, Sergio Henao, and Gorka Izaguirre) within a minute of the lead.
“I think Alaphilippe will hold on. He’s a phenomenal rider – I raced him when I was younger, and even then I could see he was a hell of a talent. It will be difficult to dislodge him, but we can only try.
“He has a strong team there, but hopefully he’s tired after being in the lead. It’s a difficult climb tomorrow from what I’ve seen. We can only try.”