British rider Simon Yates has admitted that he’s unlikely to improve his time trialling ability substantially as he prepares to enter the Tour de France, which will potentially see the general classification decided with a time trial in Marseille.
Yates is riding his third Tour this July and his first as a GC leader with hopes of a top-10 finish following his sixth place at last year’s Vuelta a España and a successful start to the season that includes wins at the Tour of Romandie, Paris-Nice and the Gran Premio Miguel Indurain.
Speaking following the time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month Yates said he needed between two and three minutes going into the Tour’s final time trial to be secure of his place on GC.
“A lot of people say to me, ‘you need to work on your TT, you need to work on your TT’,” Yates said.
“But I produce the same numbers on my TT bike that a do on my road bike on a mountain, so how do you improve that?
“How do you improve that if you’re already putting out the same numbers? You try and get more aerodynamic.
“Well I’ve been to the wind tunnel and I’ve been to the track, I’ve refined my position. Unless I get another 100watts from somewhere it’s going to be difficult to improve it enough to win.
“I’m getting there, I’m only a minute behind [in the Dauphine’s 23.5km TT], it’s not a great performance but it’s not a s*** performance – I can deal with that.”
The Tour’s route includes fewer summit finishes than in recent years and several hard stages with multiple mountains and a descent to the line or a flat finish.
Yates said he expected the parcours to play to his strengths. “Maybe it’s different at the Tour because people aren’t given as much freedom as at other races because even if you’re a minute down no one gives you an inch,” he said.
“But a lot of my races this year I’ve gone from far [away from the finish] and managed to hold on a gain time.
“I can look to do that again with finishes like [the Tour’s]; they make a lot of riders ride conservative and reserved and I’ve played off that quite well this year. But maybe in the Tour it’ll be different.
“I would prefer a race like this anyway where it’s a bit less predictable as opposed to a fitness session.”