Adam Yates Best-Placed for ORICA-GreenEDGE on Catalunya Queen StageThu 27 Mar 2014
ORICA-GreenEDGE’s neo-pro Adam Yates was again the team’s top finisher in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya mountains. The Brit was the 27th rider to reach the summit finish at Vallter 2000, 2’37 behind stage winner Tejay van Garderen (BMC). In his first WorldTour race, Yates is the Australian outfit’s best placed overall after four stages in 26th place, exactly three minutes down on race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
“The real goal today, like yesterday, is about the process,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “I don’t care if the boys are running 15th or 35th or 55th on a stage like this. The result is a minor goal compared to the more important objective – I want the team to do a good job looking after Adam and Esteban [Chaves].”
Four riders were left to attend to Yates and Chaves after Brett Lancaster retired from the Catalan stage race in the opening hour. Lancaster replaced Simon Gerrans in the Milan-Sanremo line-up on short notice last Sunday and has yet to recover from the unexpected effort in brutal conditions.
“The attacks began from the start today,” said Stephens. “It was too much for Brett He was dropped right away, and he pulled out around kilometre 20. He said was completely empty.”
The early four rider breakaway managed to hold off the peloton over the three category one climbs and one category two climbs. The quartet reached the foot of the hors categorie summit finish with a small gap in hand. Cold and rain gave way to thick fog, heavy snow and freezing temperatures on the Vallter. Chaves found the conditions particularly troubling and lost contact with the main bunch on the lower slopes of the climb. Yates managed to climb with the front group until the final three kilometres.
“The cold was a major factor today,” said Stephens. “Esteban was really cold by the end of the race, and he couldn’t hang with the best today. Adam stayed on until about three kilometres left in the stage and then he just ran out of legs, which was pretty normal. Unfortunately, he went really deep trying to hang on as long as he could, so once he lost contact, he was passed by a lot of other riders. They both did the best they could today, and we have a lot of respect for that.”
“This is all part of the development of some of our youngest riders on the team,” Stephens added. “Three of the six guys we have left are first year professionals and two are riding their first WorldTour race. I’m thinking about our tactics tomorrow, and anything I ask of them involves asking a 21 year old to back up his performance after a day of racing in the snow – a day that was his fourth day of really difficult racing. That’s a big ask of any rider.”