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ADAM YATES remains determined to target a stage win at the Tour de France but admitted yesterday that it would be hard to throw away a potential top-five overall finish.
After four days spent in yellow during the opening week of this Tour and more strong rides that have kept him in touch with leading duo Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar, Yates is on course for his best Grand Tour result since he was fourth in the 2016 Tour.
The 28-year-old had previously insisted he would not target the general classification (GC) after illness hampered his preparations, but following the high attrition rate of Sunday’s stage on the Grand Colombier, Yates sits fifth overall on the second rest day.
That means plans to deliberately drop time and gain the freedom to join breakaways have been ditched.
“I’m taking it day by day,” said Yates, who is now two minutes and three seconds off race leader Roglic. “We came to the race for stages, we went for it on stage two and ended up there on GC. You can’t throw time away when you’re in the lead or in a good position.
“We were never in a position to say ‘we’ll lose time on this day,’ it all came pretty naturally, so hopefully we can get to Paris in a good position.
“I still want to try and win a stage: I tried yesterday but it wasn’t to be. There are still plenty of stages coming up that suit me. Just because you’re riding for GC it doesn’t mean you can’t win a stage as well.
“You see Pogacar doing it, so hopefully we can come out of the rest day feeling good.”
The race now heads to the Alps with three tough stages straight out of the rest day, all of which Yates has reconned in advance.
Today’s stage 16 from La Tour-du-Pin to Villard-de-Lans includes a climb straight off the start line, something that can catch riders cold coming out of a rest day.
In each of the past two years, Yates has faded badly in the final week of the Tour for various reasons but he is confident this time round that he is only improving following the illness that hit him last month.
“I’m feeling better and better,” he said. “I wouldn’t say fresh, two weeks into a Grand Tour, but relatively I feel pretty good.
“You saw [on the Grand Colombier] I put in a move halfway up, and you’re not doing that if you’re not feeling good.
“The climbs now coming up maybe suit me more. The last couple of stages we’ve waited until the last couple of kilometres and then the two Slovenian guys have really punched the final.
“At the moment that’s not suiting me, I’m missing that bit of punch. But these slow, grinding climbs coming up suit me a bit more, so hopefully we can have good legs again.”
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