Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) starts the Tour de France 2019 in Brussels with the “strongest ever” team supporting him for the race overall.
Yates will lead the team in the Tour, starting on Saturday. The squad also includes Simon Yates, who says that he is just riding in support of his twin brother.
“This group here, I’m not joking, it’s probably the strongest group we’ve ever been able to put together of the Tour de France,” said Head Sports Director Matt White.
“It’s the most versatile group and the most depth that we’ve had across the board. We are not concentrating on the sprint front, our primarily goal is the GC. Stage hunting will come along the way.”
Next to Yates, seven support riders sat at Friday’s team press conference. Adam will go for the overall again after faltering due in the 2018 edition as he suffered in the heat.
“Our goal, our number one priority is to chase one jersey, that’s the yellow one,” continued White. “Our goal is to give him the best possible support to get as high on the podium that we can.”
Adam helped Simon Yates win the Vuelta a España overall in 2018. In 2019, Simon aimed for the Giro d’Italia but suffered in the last week and managed to finish eighth overall.
Only two weeks out from the start, the team called Simon to race the Tour. However, he and the team say it is strictly to support Adam and his quest for the overall victory.
“Simon Yates has come here to play a super domestique role to help his bother Adam, to return the favour from the Vuelta a España. He’ll be building into the Tour and looking to support Adam especially into the back end of the race,” White added.
“It’s a very tough back end of the race, probably the toughest the Tour de France has ever seen in the modern era, that’s for sure, so having a very reliable world class climber in our team in that back end will be crucial.
“We all know Simon’s ability and to have him here is really a bonus for the team.”
Simon did not use his bike after the Giro d’Italia ended in Verona. He took time and went to the beach to relax. He is now fresh and ready to race again – but not for the overall.
“No. No,” said Yates. “I will lose time on purpose, on some stage, I don’t know when.
“I really have no ambitions to go for GC myself. I am completely here for Adam. If Adam was not here, I wouldn’t be here.”
Adam Yates and White both pointed towards the experience the rider has gained over the past years and his consistency this early season. He led Tirreno-Adriatico and placed second overall, he placed second in the Vuelta a Catalunya and led the Critérium du Dauphiné for three days, finding himself only eight seconds behind race leader Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in the final 50km of the raec before falling sick and abandoning alongside many others.
“Our team was built around giving him the best possible support over three weeks and Adam’s had his most consistent year ever,” said White.
“We are looking to continue that consistency that he has shown all this year and in the years in the past.”
Yates has a mountainous Tour route in his favour. With only a team time trial on Sunday and a 27.2km individual race against the clock at the end of week two.
“The route looks good, it’s better than last year with nine to 10 days of flat. We hit the mountains on stage six, and even stage three is tricky in the final. For me that’s a good thing,” Yates explained.
“If the opportunity is there [to attack early], I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to take time. The first major hurdle is the TTT, but the last one we did in Tirreno-Adriatico, we won, so I hope that I can gain some seconds there.”