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Simon Yates was expected by some to only do a certain number of stages in the Tour de France, both because he is a first year pro and also because he is just 21 years of age. However the Orica GreenEdge rider was looking relatively fresh in this morning’s Village Depart and said he was looking forward to the upcoming mountain stages plus a possible finish in Paris.
“I think I am pretty much over this illness that I had,” he told CyclingTips. I had a real chesty cough and runny nose..the usual sort of stuff. I have been on the back foot for a couple of days, really. I started feeling better again in the last couple of days.
“We are back in the mountains now. Hopefully I have good legs and do something.”
Yates showed his talent in 2011 when he won a stage of the Tour de l’Avenir. Last season he took two more stages in that race and also proved that he is more than just a climber, netting the points race at the track world championships.
In September he won a stage and took third overall in the Tour of Britain, also winning the young rider classification.
His ride in the Tour came after he recovered from a broken collarbone suffered in the Presidential Tour of Turkey. Daryl Impey was supposed to ride the Tour but had a positive test for probenicide and lost his place; Yates was called up instead and has ridden solidly.
He made it into several breaks and, with the mountains starting again today, is keen to try again.
As regards the race to Chamrousse he said he hoped to make it into the day’s break. That didn’t work out but he said that if he doesn’t do so today, he will try again tomorrow.
Earlier in the Tour his Orica GreenEdge team was guarded about his chances of making it to Paris; it appeared that there was a chance that he would withdraw after a certain number of stages.
He’s now on his 13th, though, and is in the mood to keep pushing on.
“I just said to someone else it is really a learning curve, how to save energy. It is not just after the stages, but also during the stages,” he said, talking about what can be done to boost his recovery.
“The other day I was riding on the front for a bit to bring a break back. Once I had finished and been dropped, normally I would keep fighting to try to get back on and help out again. But this time it was like, no, that’s it. Day done. Job done. Recover as much as possible.
“That is showing. I am not finishing absolutely on the limit. I think little things like that are really helping.”
Yates has already gone further than he has before. Each day extends himself a little more. Paris is just over a week away, though, and whether or not a stage win is achievable, he has set that as a possible goal.
“Eight days is the longest I have ever raced. I have been in the unknown for ages now,” he said. “But as long as I feel as I am now, I think I should be able to finish.
“But there is no pressure on me to do so…even from myself. If I wake up and can barely make the grupetto, then I know it is time to call it a day, go home and recover. There are still plenty of other races I can win during the rest of the year. Or even just do well, help the team win or whatever.
“If I can reach Paris, that would be great. Just to finish the Tour de France is seen as a huge achievement. I think it is as well.”
The fact that he can climb and also that he appears to be recovering well points towards what could be a very good future. He says it is far too soon however to consider how well he could do in future Tours.
“I don’t know if it could be a race for me. I am a still long way away from being close to being competitive. I think I just have to see how I develop,” he said. “I am only young.”
Still, becoming an overall contender is something he would love to achieve. “Everyone still wants to win the Tour de France, and until I know it is not a possibility I can always dream.
“Right now, though, I just think it is such a long way away. I would rather not [speculate]. It is all about stepping stones. You have got to take it step by step. I can’t be saying I want to win the Tour de France if I can’t win week-long races yet.”