Simon Yates at the Ruta del Sol.

Yates: ‘You’ve got to be ready from day one’ at the Giro – but ‘patience’ is also key

Simon Yates will try to strike a delicate balance at the Giro.

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As his fifth career Giro d’Italia start looms, Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) is hoping that his first few months of the 2022 season have prepared him to improve on his strong podium performance at the Giro last season. That objective could require striking a delicate balance.

On the one hand, the Giro will not cater to those riders hoping to gently work their way into form over the course of three weeks, with a handful of tough climbs coming in the first half of the race.

“It’s not a race you can really afford to build into,” Yates said on Thursday. “You’ve got to be ready from day one.”

On the other hand, there is the danger of coming out of the gate too hot, something the 29-year-old Brit understands all too well. Although he has won a Grand Tour and finished third at the Giro since then, back at the 2018 Giro, Yates powered to three stage victories and led the race into the final week, only to see his GC bid fall apart.

“Patience” is the key, Yates said this week in Hungary.

“You need to be quite calm, because the race is three weeks. Of course we can always go back to 2018 where we went after it in the first week,” Yates said.

“Even last year, I had some problems with my hamstrings in the first week but still managed to arrive on the podium. Got to keep the three weeks in mind, wait for the race to come to you.”

Yates heads into this year’s race on the back of some promising showings so far this season, having won a stage and taken overall runner-up honors at Paris-Nice and taken a pair of stage victories at the Vuelta a Asturias – though in the latter race, an off-day on the second stage ended any hope of GC contention there.

Yates pointed to the heat as the cause of his issues on that off-day, and noted ahead of the Giro that such days were a big part of why riders make visits to races like the Vuelta a Asturias ahead of major goals.

“In the past I’ve also had some difficulties with the first exposure [to heat],” Yates said. “I’m not too worried. That’s why we were there, to tune up for the Giro.”

On his best days, Yates can climb with the best at this Giro. The question, of course, is whether he can be on his best throughout the race, or at least limit losses on the off-days. Yates’s answer to that question will come into sharper focus over the next few weeks as he squares off against a few other big names.

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), who won the Giro in 2019, is another favorite to contend, as is up-and-comer João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates). Yates acknowledged that Carapaz may have the most firepower within his team, but pointed to the depth of potential contenders in the field.

“With Carapaz, surely they have the strongest team, he’s won the race before,” Yates said. “I think it’s normal to class him as the favorite but I think there will be many others who will be competitive, not just those three. It’s a long way to the finish, we’ll try to do our best, and hopefully we can arrive on the podium.”

That journey starts on Friday, when Yates and the rest of the Giro peloton will roll out for stage 1 in Budapest.

Jonny Long contributed to this report.

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