Simon Yates brushed off any claims that he is among the favourites to win the Giro d'Italia, though he seemed quietly confident as he discussed what he has learned from previous editions of the Grand Tour.
Yates is currently tipped as the bookies' second favourite rider to win the Giro this year, behind Ineos Grenadiers rider Richard Carapaz. Addressing this assumption at BikeExchange-Jayco's pre-race press conference ahead of Friday's start, Yates attempted to brush off any added pressure that might be added on him.
“I’ll let you guys make that decision,” Yates said. “I think the riders are just anxious to start. There are others who will be competitive. Take it back to last year. I’d won the Tour of the Alps and I kept reading I was a massive favourite.
"Romain Bardet won the Tour of the Alps this year and I’ve heard nothing about him so I think there’s a few guys flying under the radar.”
Previously, Yates has mentioned he is aiming for a podium spot in the overall standings, which would at least match his best result of third in the event, achieved last year.
This year is the fifth consecutive season Yates is competing at the Giro, and while he is coyly downplaying his chances at victory this year, he also suggested he is much better prepared than in previous years to deal with the challenges across the three-week race.
“I think I’ve learned patience,” he said. “You need to be quite calm. The race is three weeks. You can always go back to 2018 where we really went after it in the first and second weeks and then fell apart in the third.
“But even last year I had some problems with my hamstrings in the first week but still came good towards the end, managed a stage and arrived on the podium. You’ve got to have an eye on the big picture, be patient and wait for the race to come to you.”
That aforementioned 2018 performance saw the British rider win three stages in the opening two weeks, helping him spend 13 days in the pink jersey. However, he failed to keep that momentum going heading into the final six stages, and ultimately relinquished the lead to eventual winner Chris Froome when the-then Team Sky rider launched that stinging stage 19 attack.
Despite going on to win the Vuelta a España later that year, Yates claims he has learned patience since. The 29-year-old recognises he exerted too much energy in the first two weeks in 2018 before blowing up in the third week, which he now understands isn't the way to race the Giro d'Italia.
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