Stage win, or general classification? Stage win? Or. General classification?
All Adam Yates wants to do, or what he says he wants to do, is “take it day by day”.
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As much as taking each stage as it comes is the most sensible option for a rider fifth on GC at the Tour de France, the banality belies how Adam Yates has raced over the past two weeks.
Going on the offensive with Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) on stage two, then taking yellow after the Frenchman fell foul of the rules, Yates fell out of the race lead in the Pyrenees as expected. Suggesting he would reset to his original goal of a stage win, the Brit didn’t sit up and allow himself the breathing room to ride away from the GC group. Instead, his legs have lasted longer than the likes of Egan Bernal (Ineos) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic).
“It would have been silly to lose any time on purpose,” Yates explained. “If I was going to lose time, it would have been on stage 15.
“I stayed out of trouble and really there were only two stages where there was a major GC battle. I said if I was struggling [on stage 15] I could have stopped by the side of the road and waiting for the gruppetto for 20 minutes.”
But he didn’t struggle. On the Grand Colombier, Yates was also the only one brave enough to attack the Jumbo-Visma train, reeled in by Tom Dumoulin and then staying in the mix to drift up the standings.
“I feel like the last couple of stages we’ve waited and waited and then they’ve punched at the final,” Yates said of his hit out on stage 15. “I feel like that doesn’t suit me, I’m missing that little punch at the end.”
What Yates is clearly not lacking in is confidence, and he keeps reiterating that he’s feeling better and better with every passing day. He’s reconned all the three remaining big mountain days in the Alps and says that at this stage of the race it may not have to be a choice between keeping his GC position or going for a stage win.
“I still want to try and win a stage, I tried yesterday but it wasn’t to be. I don’t see why I can’t win a stage if I’m high up on GC, Pogačar has done it. We’ll still keep trying,” Yates promised.
“I’m 100 per cent sure that will happen at a certain point,” the Brit added of another top 10 GC rider trying to escape up the road from a long way out, “but whether that is Pogačar or someone further down the list…it will happen once people start getting desperate.”
It will be a weird mix of defending his overall placing and sussing out whether he can try for stage glory, but the way the cards have fallen, Yates won’t throw away the chance of bettering his fourth overall at the 2016 Tour.
“I mean I’d love to stay up there on GC but we came here for stage wins. I’m not going to throw it away for a stage win but the race is going to explode, and you have to have the legs to get into these moves, then you can try and make a move yourself,” he said.
There is still a lot of racing with only one week left of the Tour de France, and despite Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas being left at home, there will be a Brit in the heat of the action again this year.