His longest stage race before may have been eight days, he may just be a first year pro, and he might be riding his first Tour de France, but Simon Yates again was in the thick of the action Saturday, being part of the large breakaway group which animated stage fourteen.
The 21 year old Orica GreenEdge rider was part of a 17 man move which went clear 16 kilometres into the tough Alpine stage. Most of them were hauled back on the final climb, but he hung on to take a solid 21st, 3 minutes and 25 seconds behind the stage winner Rafal Majka. The Tinkoff Saxo rider had also been in the move and his performance impressed the Briton.
“I’m a bit tired,” he told a group of reporters at the finish, speaking with a degree of understatement. “It was a hard day out. There was a lot of climbing, but you have got to try. If the opportunity was there and I had good legs, it might have been for the win.
“But all credit to Rafal…he is a class act and I think he showed he was easily the strongest today.”
Many teams are still searching for a stage win in the race, and Orica GreenEdge is amongst this group. The team had hoped to replicate its successful showing of last year but Simon Gerrans crashed on stage one and was stiff for several days.
In addition to that, two of its strongest riders Michael Matthews and Daryl Impey missed out on the race; Matthews crashed in training in the days beforehand, while Impey had a positive test for probenicide.
As a result things have been more complicated for the team, and they are still trying to get everything to come together for a victory.
Yates said that he battled hard to make it into the move. “It was flat out as usual. It is the hardest bit of the day, really, except for the finish,” he stated. “Once you actually get there, you ride together and it settles down to a manageable pace.
Like his brother Adam, the Presidential Tour of Turkey winner has a solid self-confidence. He was asked how it was to race in the high mountains: he sounded far from overawed.
“It was all right. Maybe not compared to these top guys, the proper GC guys, but I am no slouch on the climbs, long climbs or small climbs,” he said. “I am only a small guy…I am 58 kilos.”
That self belief is such that he didn’t waste time over-analysing things after he crossed the line. He knows he should still keep growing stronger as the years pass, and that he will have more chances.
“I am not upset, not at all. It was another opportunity to win a stage. I tried grabbing it, but I came up a bit short,” he said, in a matter of fact way. “There are plenty of other stages to go, and in the future.
“I think next year I can actually look forward to doing a Grand Tour and not feeling nervous. To have that experience of doing a longer race than normal instead of the week-long races that we normally do. It is a great experience all round, really.”
However he wants more out of the 2014 edition than just that experience. He makes it clear that he will continue attacking, and also continue trying to put Orica GreenEdge on the top of the podium.
“I am quite an ambitious guy. I like to win,” he said. “I will keep plugging away and hopefully we will get a win in the next week or so.”