Adam Yates Climbs to Eighth Place on Dauphiné Stage Two

Mon 9 Jun 2014

Whilst most eyes were on the elite group of six riders that took shape in the final five kilometres of the second stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Adam Yates quietly impressed in the first chase group. The neo-pro ultimately finished in eighth place on the stage, 42” behind stage winner Chris Froome (Team Sky). The climbing prowess demonstrated by young Yates saw him make a major jump on the overall classification from 64th place to 9th place, 1’31 behind Froome.

The day was a straightforward affair for ORICA-GreenEDGE. Supporting Yates was the Australian outfit’s sole objective over the hilly stage. An early break dominated all but the final ten kilometres. Five riders broke away from the bunch on the opening climb, and Team Sky set a quick tempo at the front of the peloton to keep the quintet in check.

“The job today for the team was to stay around Adam,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “They were to pull him up to the front before the finish, so he would be in a good position at the bottom of the climb. That was basically it.

With the summit finish looming, Froome sat on the back of the Team Sky train as his lieutenants Geraint Thomas, Richie Porte and Mikel Nieve set a punishing pace. The final turn by Nieve saw overall hopefuls Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) lose contact with the reduced bunch. Yates remained mid-pack as he responded to the injection in pace over the rising road.

“Santaromita and Howson stayed with Adam at the bottom,” Wilson explained.  “They were able move him up before things got really hard."

When Nieve swung off the front, Froome launched his first missive. Initially only Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) could match Froome’s acceleration. Froome attacked again, and Contador stayed glued to his wheel. Recognising that he would need to employ another strategy to rid himself of Contador, Froome sat back down, slowing slightly, and allowed the first chase group to bridge the distance to himself and the Spaniard.

A second series of attacks from Froome caused the decisive split. Froome, Contador, Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) appeared headed for a four-up mountain sprint. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) valiantly dragged himself and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) back to the leading quartet. Kelderman and Talansky would go on to launch several accelerations, all of which Froome gamely shut down.

Froome opened his sprint with slightly more than a half-kilometre remaining. Contador matched Froome’s effort, making for an exciting finale. The race leader edged out his nearest challenger for the stage win. Kelderman rounded out the stage podium. Yates’ chase group splintered in the final kilometre with Igor Anton (Movistar) the first chaser to make it to the finish line, two seconds and one place ahead of the Briton.

“This is a massive step up from what we saw Adam do in Turkey and California, especially right before the Tour de France,” said Wilson. “All the best guys in the world are here. They’re all super fit and super motivated. This is racing at the highest level. We think Adam did an awesome ride, and he sounds pretty happy with his performance, too.”

“Adam is ninth overall now,” Wilson added.  “I said before the start that if Adam got himself in a position where he’s on the general classification, the team would support him. He’s only 21, and he’s a first year professional. I think it’s unrealistic that we ask him to ride GC every day at a race like this. We’re going to take it day by day. If he can move up, fantastic. If he drops off, that’s okay, too."