Yates again shows maturity on tough stage 15 of the Tour de France

Sun 17 Jul 2016

White jersey Adam Yates rode beyond his years for ORICA-BikeExchange on a relentless stage 15 of the Tour de France today, finishing in 21st place on the day and retaining third on the general classification.

The brutal 160km mountain stage was won by Jarlinson Panatano (IAM-Cycling) after sprinting to victory from the day’s breakaway group.

Somewhat surprisingly, the fireworks in the battle for the general classification never happened and 23-year-old Yates matched every move within the favourites group as the top ten all crossed the line together.

Spanish all-rounder Ruben Plaza was one of the protagonists of the day’s early breakaway and held his own over the climbs before dropping back to the Yates group for the approach to the finale.

Sport director Matt White was content with how the stage unfolded for ORICA-BikeExchange.

“We wanted to get someone in the breakaway today,” said White. “It is always a good idea to have somebody up there and Ruben (Plaza) had good legs and did well before coming back to support Adam (Yates) in the final kilometres.”

“It was another measured and consistent ride from Adam today, we knew that it probably wasn’t going to be a day of big upheavals on the general classification and Adam managed his efforts very well.

“Tomorrow could be interesting because the outcome will depend on how the sprinter's teams are able to control the stage, its going to be a long, tough day and it is not a straight forward finish for the pure sprinter.”

How it happened:

A tough day in the sub-alpine Jura mountain range awaited the peloton as the riders gathered at the sunny start in Bourg-en-Bresse this morning.

The first climb came five kilometres out of the neutral zone and the race duly came alive. An early attack by Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) was followed by Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and the pair utilised a tailwind to develop a slight lead over the bunch.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) took the initiative and led the large first chasing group that also contained Plaza of ORICA-BikeExchange, the chasers caught and absorbed Majka and Zakarin with 135km left to race.

The Nibali group of 28 riders had a lead of four minutes as they hit the eight kilometre Col du Sappel climb after 45kilometres of racing.

Twenty kilometres later and the advantage was out past six minutes as the leaders approached the halfway point.

The breakaway group began to splinter with 65km to go with both Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and Nibali off the front of the group close to the first ascent of the Grand Colombier.

The peloton still contained the Yates, Froome and the rest of the overall contenders and were eight minutes behind when Dumoulin was caught by Nibali, Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La-Mondiale) and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM-Cycling).

The quartet hit the Colombier at a relentless pace that could not be held as the some members of the earlier breakaway made contact with Majka again dictating the tempo.

Majka and Pantano were pulling away on the descent of the Colombier as Astana began to increase the pace of the jersey group, which subsequently began to reduce in numbers.

One minute separated Majka and Pantano and the first group of chasers going into the finishing circuit of Culoz with 25km left to race.

The Lacets du Grand Colombier still had to be tackled, a steep series of switchbacks that took the race back out into the hills before turning back and descending towards the finish.

Fabio Aru (Astana) attacked from the favourites group on the ‘Lacets’ with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) following, but Team Sky maintained their rhythm and brought back the duo.

With ten kilometres to go, Majka and Pantano were alone out front with a 30second advantage over the chasers and under five minutes on the favourites group.

Yates was still with the favourites who were now descending towards the finale with Movistar setting the tempo.

Pantano won the sprint ahead of Majkaro take the stage victory whilst Yates crossed the line with the rest of the overall top ten, retaining the white jersey and third on general classification.

Tomorrow's stage 16 covers 209km from Moirans-en-Montagne to Berne. Starting in France and finishing in Switzerland this mainly flat and lumpy stage includes a couple of short and steep climbs before the finish in Berne and is anything but predictable.

Tour de France stage 15 results:

1. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM-Cycling) 04:24:49
2. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) ST
3. Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-La-Mondiale) 00:00:05
21. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:03:07 

General classificaton after stage 15:

1. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 68:14:36
2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 00:01:47
3.  Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:02:45