MONTPELLIER, France (CT) – He’s currently sitting second overall in the Tour de France, less than half a minute off yellow, but Adam Yates has already accepted that the current race leader is likely to win overall.
The Orica-BikeExchange rider acknowledged the strength of Chris Froome on Wednesday, approximately half an hour after the race leader extended his lead by 12 seconds.
“He loves it,” said Yates when asked about Froome’s surprise attack. “He does get involved. Every opportunity he has to gain a few seconds here and there he has taken it. The way he is going, I can’t see him losing much time anywhere else.
“In my opinion he is going to be on the top step in Paris. We still have got a week or so to go, though, so we will find out then, won’t we?”
Froome’s move came towards the end of a long, wind-buffeted stage to Montpellier. The Briton followed a move instigated by Peter Sagan, joining with the latter’s Tinkoff teammate Maciej Bodnar and Froome’s fellow Sky rider Geraint Thomas.
Together the four of them rode flat out to the finish, where Sagan beat Froome to win the stage. The bunch came in six seconds later.
Together with the time bonus for second, Froome ended the day 28 seconds clear of Yates. He is now 31 seconds ahead of Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and a further four seconds up on Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
“The way he is going, you always expect something from him,” said Yates of Froome’s aggression. “He is in great condition and has taken every opportunity he can to gain time. It [his attack] is no real surprise but I got through the stage fine, so that is all that matters.”
The 23 year old will face big tests on Thursday and Friday. The first of those two days is a summit finish to Chalet Reynaud. The stage had originally been due to finish higher up, on the summit of Mont Ventoux, but expected winds of over 100 km/h caused Tour organiser ASO to make changes.
Yates said that he isn’t worried about the modification. In fact, he’s given it a thumbs-up.
“It doesn’t really change much. It will still be a hilltop finish and the shorter it is, the more it suits me,” he said. “In my opinion it is kind of an advantage.
“Everyone is going to suffer, everyone will be in pain. But the condition is good, I got through today in good condition thanks to the guys on the team. We will see what happens and if I have good legs I will give it a go.”