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One step beyond: Adam Yates goes all in for yellow at the Tour de France

Joe Robinson
29 Jun 2018

Adam Yates will head to next month's Tour de France hoping to go one step further

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) heads to next weekend's Tour de France Grand Depart with a true ambition for yellow, as does his team. They are not turning up for the podium or stage wins, but to take the big prize in Paris. 

After a breakthrough 4th overall in 2016, Yates has taken a steady upwards trajectory towards the title of General Classification contender and now is the time for the team to go all-in in supporting the Bury-born climber on his dream of Tour success. 

The pressure of a whole team riding in support of your ambitions could be enough to make certain riders crumble but for the laid-back Yates his Tour experiences from the two years previous make this just another day at the office.

'Two years ago I came fourth so I have been there and done it,' Yates said. 'I have been close to the podium, I have been in thick of it. Fighting every day so it will not be new to me or the team.

'Whether it be a Grand Tour and one week races we go into every race we have a GC leader whether that's [his twin brother] Simon, Esteban [Chaves] or even Jack Haig.

'We are experienced and know what to do. It's just a matter of putting it together.'

The confidence of Yates to do well at the Tour is shared by his team. Mitchelton-Scott decided to provide Yates with a full squad of seven at his disposal both on the tricky first nine stages and then in the mountains.

Ultimately this saw sprinter Caleb Ewan left out despite the expectation he would go, something that Yates admits is tough.

'It's pretty disappointing for Caleb,' Yates admitted. 'I was with him in Lake Tahoe after the Tour of California on a training camp and everyone was working well together.

'But obviously management had a change of thought and that.s how it is. It just means there is more pressure on me but it doesn’t change much really.'

Ewan's omission from the team made space for specialists who could support Yates in certain aspects of the Tour whether that be former Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman on Stage 9's cobbles or Michael Hepburn and Luke Durbridge in the team time trial.

In the mountains, Yates will have Mikel Nieve fresh from his pivotal role of right-hand man to twin Simon at the recent Giro d'Italia and highly rated Australian climber Damien Howson. 

For in between comes Daryl Impey and Jack Bauer, who offer plenty of big race experience.

Having strong teammates around him will be pivotal in a tricky opening nine stage that include the Mur de Bretagne, a 35km team time trial and the cobblestones of northern France and Yates realises it will be a matter of not losing the race rather than winning it on these stages.

'It's pretty difficult to gain time on the flat,' he concedes. 'It's more about limiting losses. There is the team time trial on Stage 3 in which I think we can come close to the win in my opinion.

'I'm not aiming for the yellow jersey early but if it happens, it happens. It would actually be beneficial to not lead before mountains because you waste energy but obviously I will honour the jersey if it happens.'

After negotiating the first nine days, the race turns to the mountains in which a mixed bag can be expected. With only three summit finishes, Tour organisers are trying to coax attacking riding from the peloton early in the stage.

That's no more apparent than in Stage 17, the 65km sprint from Bagneres-de-Luchon to the summit of the Col de Portet which will debut a unique gridding system based on GC to determine start position.

This could put fear into some GC riders especially considering teams like Movistar plan to race with multiple options for the overall victory.

However for Yates, he sees this as a potential opportunity to bring his aggressive race craft to the fore.

'There are a lot of short punchy mountain stages that suit me and those who like to throw it down like the Movistar guys,' Yates says.

'They will be aggressive because they have options on short mountain stages but then again it could work to my advantage. I could get in a move with them and take time out of everybody else.'

The one man who all will be looking to take time out of is defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky). Although Froome will be racing off the back of a gruelling victory at the Giro d'Italia in May, he and his strong Team Sky squad still remain bookies' favourite, something that Yates wholly agrees with.

'He has won four so I should hope that he is favourite. If I won four Tours I would want to be favourite.

He has a strong team and he will be the guy to beat.'

For all the information on the Tour de France visit our full guide here.