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The Col de Marie Blanque was one climb too many for Adam Yates, who relinquished the maillot jaune to Primoz Roglic on Sunday, undone by the steep slopes of the Pyrenees.
“I did everything I could,” Yates said. “I said from the very beginning, even before the Tour started, that I wasn’t at 100 percent, and I think we did well. We hung on for as long as we could.”
Yates came into this Tour de France as part a Mitchelton-Scott team that admitted it couldn’t, and wouldn’t, fight for the overall. Stage wins where the goal, director Matt White said, and anything else would be a bonus.
Yates set himself up for success with a strong ride on stage 2, when he finished ahead of the peloton alongside Julian Alaphilippe and Marc Hirschi. When Alaphilippe was hit with a 20-second penalty for a late feed, that bonus presented itself and Yates stepped into yellow.
Yates fought hard through two days in the Pyrenees. He was gapped on stage 8, a yellow yo-yo off the back of the GC group as Tadej Pogacar laid down attacks. But he stayed calm, rode himself back into the group, and held on for another day.
The 12% grades of Marie Blanque were too much. Yates lost yellow when Primoz Roglic took bonus seconds over the top, and dropped further down the GC by the finish. He now sits in 8th, 1’02” back.
“Yeah, there are a couple of guys going better than me,” Yates said. “So I did the best I could and I think we can be proud.”
“We were going full gas on the descent, I had a couple of guys with me – Alejandro Valverde, Miguel Ángel López, Enric Mas – and we worked well together but the gap was just too big,” he said.
Yates will now switch back into stage hunting mode, alongside teammate Esteban Chaves. “There are a lot of stages which suit me, particularly in the final week,” Yates said.
As for yellow, Yates is more pleased it happened than sad it’s gone.
“It was good fun while it lasted,” he said.