Adam Yates is a “different sort of character”.
“We can talk for hours with him and he won’t use 10 words if one word will do,” his Orica-BikeExchange sports director Matt Wilson says. “If you waffle on he’s like, ‘what the f**k are you talking about?’”
The 23-year-old currently sits third overall in his career second Tour de France where he has enjoyed a pressure free role from the outfit that has proffered such opportunity since he turned pro in 2012.
Yates has a sureness that Wilson says comes from a raw competitive drive. The burgeoning climber apparently seldom responds to text messages from anyone and doesn’t give much away to the media he isn’t overly concerned with.
‘Day-by-day’ has been a go-to answer for the Briton through his Tour campaign in which he has kept pace with the yellow jersey group to maintain his position overall and the white jersey of best young rider.
“He’s just a competitor. He just wants to be left alone, race his bike and win. I don’t think he’s particularly interested in fame or fortune or anything like that,” Wilson says. “Most people think, ‘can he hang onto third, can he hang onto third?’ I think he’s up there thinking about, ‘how I can win.’ He’d never say that but that’s just the sort of person he is.”
Yates and his twin brother, Simon have been heralded since they both turned professional with the Australian outfit, which is keen to keep the pair, managed by different rider agents, on its books for next season.
Yates is identical in looks to his brother but not by nature, says Wilson, who believes Simon is less subdued. Wilson has worked predominately with the former and when asked to compare him to other climbers in this peloton and in the past, he could not.
“I’ve never met a GC guy like him,” he observes. “He knows what he wants that’s for sure. He is a confident man. He’s only 23 years old so he’s so young, he’s still sort of finding his legs and obviously has a lot to learn but he’s different.”
Yates will have to fight in the remaining two Alpine stages of the Tour to keep his podium position, which an in-form Richie Porte (BMC) is now within striking distance of and proved on Wednesday that he has the legs to attack and gain the time. Yates already had an eye to Porte and stage 19 to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc doing interviews in the white jersey after his 16th place finish on Thursday’s alpine time trial.
Chris Froome (Sky) won the time trial to increase his overall lead on the general classification that otherwise didn’t hugely fluctuate. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) remains second overall, three minutes and 52 seconds in arrears with Yates a further 24 seconds in adrift.
Yates will be able to call on the Orica-BikeExchange team willing to support his endeavour, which in any case and barring serious incident should see him hugely improve on his 50th overall place last season.
“Everyone is a big fan of Adam. He’s a different sort of character but he’s himself,” Wilson says.