The 23-year-old from Bury sits second only to Sky’s Chris Froome, at 16 seconds, on the first rest day of the Tour in Andorra. He says that the overall classification was never his goal and that a stage win is more important than the GC or the white jersey of the best young rider.
“At that age, unless you go all the way, unless you find out what it’s like and start to learn, you are not just going to get to a point where you can step up and win,” Brailsford said.
“He should continue racing as long as he can for three weeks, manage himself and see how he gets on. I don’t think that if he drops off a little bit that he should sit up and go for stage wins. [He should] keep on persevering with the whole adventure because I think that will stand him very good stead for future years.”
Yesterday’s stage to Arcalís in the north of Andorra finished under heavy rain and hail, but that did not deter Yates. He attacked to join and led the classification group home. With him were cycling’s big hitters: Froome, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Daniel Martin (Etixx–Quick-Step) and Richie Porte (BMC Racing). Others were further down the rain-drenched mountain road.
Watch Adam Yates discuss his chances in the Tour de France
A strong first week has moved Yates to second overall after nine stages of this year’s Tour. Martin sits in third at 19 seconds and Quintana fourth at 23. Yates also holds the white jersey with a 39-second lead over Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida).
“I hope he tries [to hold his podium spot] because I think he was talking about losing a bit of time and stage wins and everything else,” Brailsford continued. “It’s obvious that he’s a terrific talent and that he’s a potential GC contender, if not already a GC contender.”
Great Britain is looking for its next Grand Tour winner after recent victories by first Bradley Wiggins and then Froome. Some are pointing to Geraint Thomas, while others say that Adam Yates or his twin brother Simon could one day win the Tour, the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta a España.
“You can’t say that he can’t be [the next British winner] from what he’s showing so far,” Brailsford added. “He’s in second overall and in the young riders’ jersey. If that was the French or maybe the Spanish, they’d be jumping up and down about it. And hopefully we are too.”