'We’ll celebrate with a bottle of vino’ - Adam Yates claims queen stage and overall lead at the Tour de Romandie

Yates has one day to seal victory

Adam Yates
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Adam Yates won the penultimate stage of the Tour de Romandie atop Thyon 2000 to take the overall lead from his UAE Team Emirates teammate Juan Ayuso.

Yates held off a pursuit from Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) to take the victory in wet conditions, having accelerated out of a select group of favourites 4.5km from the finish. 

Ayuso was surprisingly dropped 4km earlier, showing much weaker form than that which saw him win yesterday’s time trial, and left the yellow jersey up for grabs. Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar) was the virtual leader when the Spaniard was distanced, and led the chase after Yates attacked, but ultimately finished 21 seconds down. 

“It was a really good performance from my team,” said a breathless Yates at the finish. “We all said from the beginning that we would try to help Ayuso hold on to the jersey for as long as possible. He really earnt the right to wear it in the last couple of days, after a serious injury. 

“We did all we could to help him, but he said already himself that he’s still coming back into shape. So when he gave me the go ahead to go I tried, and I just pushed all the way to the line.”

Having performed so well the day before to win the time trial, Ayuso looked like he was already back in the form that saw him make the podium at the Vuelta a España last September despite not having races since then, so it was a surprise to see him dropped. The Spaniard knew he did not have the legs to defend the jersey, and gave Yates the go ahead to ride for himself.

“He’s a young guy, and such a big talent that he’s sure to win some big races in the future. He said to me maybe five or six kilometres to go: ‘Adam you can drive for the win’. And from that moment on I did my best to win. 

“All week we’ve been riding really well. One more day to go, so hopefully we’ll hold on to it tomorrow”. 

It was Yates’ second win of the season after his victory atop Jebel Hafeet in the UAE Tour in February, since when he has struggled for results. 

“It’s just nice to win. I’ve had some bad luck in the last couple of races. I had a big crash in Catalunya, so I had some time off to recover and prepare again. Now here we are, so I’m super-happy.”

After UAE Team Emirates and Groupama-FDJ had set the pace early on the final climb, DSM thinned the group down to only around a dozen riders, with Ayuso among those dropped.

DSM’s leader Romain Bardet then made a move 6.7km from the finish, the first of a flurry of attacks from multiple riders including Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AlUla) and Simon Carr.

The only rider to maintain a gap was Yates, when he countered another move from Bardet 4.5km from the top

Pinot launched his own attack in pursuit 2.5km from the finish, and initially closed the gap to around just five seconds. But Yates found something extra and managed to extend his lead again, holding on for the stage victory.  

Earlier in the stage, Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) secured the King of the Mountains classification by getting into the day’s ten-man break, and being the first to the summit of each of the first three of the day’s four climbs.

Christopher Juul-Jensen, Lawson Craddock (both Jayco-AlUla) and Ben Zwiehoff (Bora-Hansgrohe), were the last survivors from that break, and were caught halfway up the final climb. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Dstny) instigated much of the action in that break earlier in the day, and attacked a few times near the bottom of the climb, but was dropped by those three riders. 

The Tour de Romandie will conclude tomorrow with a hilly stage to Geneva. With the last climb crested over 50km from the finish, it shouldn’t pose too many problems for Yates in defending his lead of 19 seconds over Jorgensen, but he isn’t counting his chickens just yet. 

“It’s never over ‘till it’s over. For now we’ll celebrate with a bottle of vino, and we’ll try to hold on to it tomorrow”

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Stephen Puddicombe is a freelance journalist for Cycling Weekly, who regularly contributes to our World Tour racing coverage with race reports, news stories, interviews and features. Outside of cycling, he also enjoys writing about film and TV - but you won't find much of that content embedded into his CW articles.