Adam Yates is looking to the mountain stages of the Tour de France with optimism after emerging from a testing opening 10 days in good shape.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider got himself on the right side of Monday’s splits in crosswinds to move up to seventh place overall, one minute and 47 seconds off leader Julian Alaphilippe and only 35 seconds behind Geraint Thomas – the best placed of the overall contenders.
While a number of big names lost 100 seconds in Monday’s chaos, Yates has kept close to Thomas, losing 21 seconds in the team time trial and 14 seconds when the defending champion launched an attack on La Planche des Belles Filles on stage six.
The 26-year-old, fourth in 2016, is keeping his sights set high with his favoured ground in the mountains still to come, and is confident he is in a better place than 12 months ago when dehydration caused him to lose time in the Alps and slip to a disappointing 29th overall.
“I feel good,” he told PA. “Much better than last year. Last year (by the first rest day) we’d had nine flat stages with the cobbled stage to Roubaix.
“This year we’ve had some lumpy stages, tricky stages, a general classification day, so all-in-all I’m in a much better position than last year.”
Adam, whose twin brother Simon is riding in support of him in France, earned the nickname ‘The Shadow’ in 2016 for his habit of hanging on the back of the peloton away from the often stressful fight for position up the road, but he was in the right place when the splits occurred on stage 10.
“I’ve changed my approach a little bit but not too much,” he said. “We still stay back a little bit because there’s so much fighting at the front. You waste so much energy and we’re racing for three weeks.
“But the team I’ve got here, I’ve ridden with them all season and the season before so everyone knows how I work and we’ve got a good flow.
“The guys trust me more and I trust them more. We’ve got a system and it is just easy to follow and easy to work.”
Last year, Adam recovered from that disappointing Tour by going to La Vuelta and helping Simon to a breakthrough Grand Tour victory.
Now the roles are reversed, with Simon coming straight out of May’s Giro d’Italia to ride for his brother in France.
Little has been seen of him in the first week, with Simon deliberately losing time so he is not considered a threat by other teams and is free to help Adam in the mountains.
A stress-free week – boosted by a stage victory for team-mate Daryl Impey on Sunday – has made a welcome change to a man now accustomed to fighting at the sharp end of races.
“I love it, it’s great,” Simon said. “The big boys here are doing a really great job as always. Adam always has lots of guys around him and he doesn’t need me.
“I’m not here for the flat stages, I’m not here for the crosswinds. I’ve just been making sure I stay safe so I can arrive in good conditions for this next stage of the race.”