Adam Yates in the GC showdown on stage six of the Tour de France

Thu 11 Jul 2019

Mitchelton-SCOTT team leader Adam Yates was to the fore on stage six of the Tour de France as the day concluded with the brutal ascent of the La Planche des Belles Filles.

The British rider crossed the line alongside a number of general classification contenders in 13th place to keep his race on track as the first big showdown of the race played out in the Vosges Mountains.

Big Day Ahead

Stage six was another chance for the breakaway to try and succeed at giving the peloton the slip and as such there was a clamour to escape in the early stages. A large group of 14 eventually made it clear as the peloton sat up, declaring themselves happy with the composition of those up the road.

The leaders soon stretched their advantage out to over seven minutes and that gap held firm over the first two climbs of the day. The pace in the bunch was being controlled by Deceuninck - Quick Step as they assumed their position on the front to look after race leader Julian Alaphilippe.

Mitchelton-SCOTT were content to sit safely in the bunch for the opening half of the stage, but began to move to the fore as the race passed over the fourth climb of the day, the Ballon d’Slsace. The pace was then ramped up as the peloton passed through the 40-kilometres to go with splits appearing on the descent as the gap to the break began to fall.

Brutal Finale

The time difference was down to 5’30” as the penultimate climb approached and with the peloton closing in Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) went solo out of the break. The remains of the break hit the slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles with a 3’45” advantage on the main bunch and they could now start to believe that the stage win was possible.

Behind them, the bunch raced into the foot of the final climb and the high tempo was too much for a host of riders, including Simon Yates, who was distanced with his job done for the day. That left Adam Yates alone in the group of favourites, but the Brit was looking comfortable as Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) launched an attack.

There was no initial reaction from the GC contenders as Landa opened up a 10-second gap, while at the head of the race Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merida) fought off his fellow breakaway riders to take the win. With his race lead under threat, Alaphilippe jumped clear of the GC group in an attempt to retain the yellow jersey, and the move drew a reaction from 2018 winner Geraint Thomas (Team INEOS), who distanced his fellow contenders to take fourth, 14-seconds ahead of Adam Yates.

Adam Yates:
“Today played out pretty much as expected, the pace was quite high all day, not just on the last climb, so all in all a tough day out. The guys looked after me as always and kept me in good position and out the wind so I could arrive in the final as fresh as possible.”

“In general, everything went ok, on the main paved section of the last climb I felt pretty good, but once we got on the gravel section, even though it was short it’s a bit different than normal and added an extra complexity to the day!”

Matt White (Sports Director):
“I think the race played out a lot more negatively than anyone would have predicted. When we saw a breakaway of that size go at the start, if you want to keep the jersey, that’s a very hard one to control, especially with some of the engines in that breakaway, like Thomas De Gendt for example.”

“I think there was a bit of a Mexican stand-off between the GC teams and when Movistar did start to chase it was just way too late for the stage win.  I think a lot of the GC team were feeling each other out and we saw some interesting things in the final there, but I think a lot of people would have predicted a much tougher stage.”

“Typically, in the first big stage in the Tour de France there’s a big selection for the GC guys and actually there wasn’t today. Adam was where he needed to be, and our other guys had their role to play on the stage and we’re happy with where Adam finished.”

Tour de France 2019 Stage 6 Results:
1. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merida) 4:29:03
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek - Segafredo) +0:11
3. Xandro Meurisse (Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team) +1:05
13. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 1:58

General Classification After Stage 6:
1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek - Segafredo) 23:14:55
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) +0:06
3. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merida) +0:32
14. Adam Yates(Mitchelton-SCOTT) +1:24

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.