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It’s Tour de France number one for the young Orica-GreenEdge climber Adam Yates but despite the 2015 edition marking his debut in the race, he hasn’t shied away from being ambitious.
The 2014 Tour of Turkey winner rode aggressively on Saturday’s Mur de Bretagne climb, going clear in an early surge, then finishing seventh in the sprint to the line.
The performance shows that his form is improving as the race heads towards the bigger peaks of the Pyrenees and then the Alps, and he is set to try again.
“We are targeting the mountain stages…any mountain stage,” he said. “Me and the brother, we are pretty good climbers on our day. So we will try to go up the road and hope we take a victory.
“We’ll try to take any opportunity that comes along. We have got two more weeks here, we’ll see what we can do.”
Yates’ twin brother Simon is also in the race and is a strong climber in his own right. He won a stage of the Tour de l’Avenir in 2011, then two years later returned to pick up two more there before going on to land stage six plus third overall in the Tour of Britain.
As part of his buildup to the Tour he was fifth in both the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Critérium du Dauphiné and also scooped the best young rider award in the latter.
Those performances plus similarly good rides from his brother – such as that 2014 Presidential Tour of Turkey win, fifth in the 2014 Tour of California and sixth in last year’s Dauphiné – have earmarked them out as hugely promising riders for the future.
So too their age; at just 22 years old, there is plenty of improvement ahead of them and many see them as future Tour contenders.
This time around, the Britons are doing the Tour for experience and to chase stage wins. Any possibility of general classification went out the window in a tough opening week, with Simon crashing and Adam also being delayed. They started Sunday’s time trial over twelve minutes back and lost further time as the depleted team finished far behind the winners Sky.
No matter; the minutes conceded will mean that they should have far greater freedom than they might otherwise have had.
Heading into the race general manager Shayne Bannan said that he believed the team would be in the position to chase stages throughout the Tour. The Yates brothers were a big part of that plan and at the top of the Mur de Bretagne, Adam sounded in the right place psychologically.
“For us, GC is not an objective any more. We’ll get through the team time trial, then have a rest day, and look to what comes next.
“We will keep trying for something in the next stages.”
Asked how he would sum up the opening week of what is his first Tour, he was clear on the main feeling: “It’s been stressful, super stressful,” he said.
“But it has been good, it is a good experience. There are always crowds, people on the road cheering your name and stuff. So it is a great experience. A few more stages and hopefully we can do something here.”
Those who have followed their progress in recent years will hope that this is the case. Ditto for the Orica GreenEdge team, which is hoping to turn its Tour de France around as soon as it can.