Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) wins the sprint for third at Il Lombardia.

Adam Yates had luck on his side at Il Lombardia

Adam Yates is the first Brit to make the Il Lombardia podium since Tom Simpson.

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Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) sprinted to third in the last Monument of the season, becoming only the second British rider to step onto the Il Lombardia podium after Tom Simpson took victory in 1965.

“Third is a pretty good result considering I was racing full gas since the start of the year in February in the UAE, so to go all season with quite good consistency, I’m pretty happy with that,” Yates said after the race. “It’s not a win, but at the end of the day I’ve been consistent throughout the year.”

Yates was part of an aggressive Ineos Grenadiers team that kicked off the action on the penultimate long climb of the race. The British rider stayed in the wheels while his teammates softened the opposition, but when Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) accelerated on the next climb, Yates found himself stuck in the chasing group with the rest of the favourites.

Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) and Romain Bardet (Team DSM) on the front of the elite chase group in the last 15 km of Il Lombardia.

“I was thinking, ‘Oof, this is going to hurt’,” Yates said of the moment Pogačar accelerated away on the Passo di Gamba. “I tried to make one move, and we didn’t get across, so that was it.

“I was suffering already. It wasn’t just the climbs but also the descents. It was a really technical course this year and you had to always be in position to make sure you didn’t get caught out, and in the end that takes a lot out of you. We got to the climb and everyone was suffering quite a lot. I tried to go across but in the end the legs weren’t there.”

After almost 230 km of racing, the elite chasing group could not get itself organised. At one point, Yates found himself with a gap when he rolled through to take his turn on the front just as the group behind stalled. Then he and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) were caught out on the punchy Colle Aperto near the finish in Bergamo. But all was not lost.

“In the end, it was a bit of luck,” Yates said. “Sometimes you need a bit of luck and today was the day. I was dropped with Primož on the last climb but we came back with 400-500 metres to go and managed to get a good run-in. It’s nice to have a bit of luck and I’m just happy to finish the season well.”

Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) follows his twin brother Simon Yates (BikeExchange) early in Il Lombardia. Simon would be dropped twice on the climbs before finishing 86th – a race to forget for the 2018 Vuelta winner…

Yates made the move from the BikeExchange outfit for the 2021 season, parting ways with the Australian outfit, and his twin brother Simon, after seven years. Highlights of his 2021 season include second overall at the UAE Tour – where he was beaten by a perennial Pogačar – a stage win and overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya, and fourth at the Vuelta a España. His year ends with fourth and second at the Giro dell’Emilia and Milano-Torino, and finally his historic third place at the ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’.

“I’ve had my ups and my downs, like everyone else this year,” he said. “For sure there are things to work on and improve next year, but we’ll think about that in a few weeks in the off-season.”

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