Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) did not feel so sure about winning the three-up Tour de France sprint to Bagnères-de-Bigorre on stage 12.
The win in the 2019 Tour gives Yates wins in all three Grand Tours, with his wins in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.
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“I’ve been saving energy until we got here in the mountains and this was the first chance to try something,” Yates said. “Normally, I would be back helping Adam but I had my own chance and grabbed it with both hands.
“I wasn’t very confident of beating either of them as I didn’t know how fast they are. But my director said I had to be in front coming round the last corner so I made sure I did that, and thankfully I held on to win.”
After Adam helped Simon win the Vuelta a España in 2018, Simon is repaying the favour in the Tour. He had been riding at the back for the first 11 stages, but on stage 12, he showed that his form is ready to support Adam in the high mountains starting on Saturday to the Tourmalet.
The 26-year-old Briton won a stage in the 2016 Vuelta and again in the 2018 Vuelta on his way to the overall. In the 2018 Giro, he picked up three wins in his push to try to win the race overall.
“I’m very proud of winning stages in all three Grand Tours, and hopefully there are more to come. We’ll see if there are more chances this Tour,” Yates said.
“My main priority is to help Adam. I just had the chance to get up the road today. I’ll see how I am in the next few days. We’re having a fantastic Tour and long may it continue.”
The win adds to the one from Daryl Impey on stage nine. Yates had made the escape with Matteo Trentin today and then rode free with Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Pello Bilbao (Team Astana).
It was a three-up sprint. Yates, former points world champion at the junior level, sat on the wheel of Bilbao.
“No, I was not super confident in my own sprint but you never really know after such a long day how fresh the other guys are, how fast,” Yates continued.
“There were not many tactics about that at the end, I was just happy to arrive there at the end.”
The Tour continues with a time trial in Pau on stage 13 and heads into the mountains this weekend, where Yates will be in a good mood and ready to help his bother.
“Now it’s back to the day job, looking out for him,” Yates said. “He’s looking good so I’m excited.”