Adam Yates was the only rider brave enough to try his luck against an irrepressible Jumbo-Visma train up the Grand Colombier on stage 15 of the Tour de France, saying he was making the most of the last bit of racing before the second rest day.
“I wanted to try something just before the rest day,” Yates said, explaining his solo attack with 7km to go, staying off the front for about a kilometre before Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) dragged him back to heel.
Yates wasn’t spat out the GC group, though, crossing the line in eighth, 15 seconds down on stage winner Tadej Pogačar. The Brit was the highest-finishing Ineos rider on the day (if we’re counting members of their 2021 squad) as defending champion Egan Bernal cracked and fell out of contention for the overall.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider, freed from the responsibilities of the yellow jersey, now finds himself moving back up the overall classification to fifth place, his legs proving stronger than GC riders such as Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic).
“I’m getting better day by day, I didn’t want it to come down until the last kilometre or two because in the previous stages I’ve kind of suffered and then struggled to hold the wheel,” Yates said of his lack of final kick compared to Roglič and Pogačar, “so I went, tried to get over the steep bit to the flat up-down section, but yeah, Jumbo weren’t happy with me trying anything so they brought me back.”
Since losing the race lead, Yates said he would re-focus and target stage victories for the remainder of the Tour, whether he’ll now look to protect his GC position, improve it, or throw it away for stage wins will soon become clear.
“Sensations are good, we’ll have a good rest day and then hopefully have some good stages in the Alps.”