Yates holds on to the White Jersey and second overall on stage eight of the Tour de FranceSat 9 Jul 2016
An incredible ride by 23-year old Adam Yates on stage eight of the Tour de France today, saw the ORICA-BikeExchange rider hold onto his lead in the best young rider category and second place on the general classification.
The epic mountain stage, including the legendary Col du Tourmalet and the Col de Peyresourde, unfolded over 184kilometres with Yates following every attack at every key moment.
Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) won the stage and moved into the race lead with Yates finishing in seventh place, 13seconds behind Froome to remain second place overall.
“It was full gas from start to finish today,” said Yates at the end of the stage. “The team did a great job of looking after me until the first climb started and from then on there were no easy moments.”
“There weren’t any opportunities to have a rest and recover a little because it was so full on.
“I am pretty tired now but we have another big day in the mountains coming up tomorrow so we will see what we can do.”
Yates leads Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) by eighteen seconds in the best young rider category going into tomorrow’s stage nine.
Sport director Matt White was content with the how the team handled the first big mountain test of this year's Tour de France.
“Today was the first big challenging stage in the Pyrenees,” said White. “It was the first real test today and I liked what I saw from Adam (Yates) who worked hard and showed the kind of condition he is in.”
“All the guys rode well in the beginning on what was a fast start to the stage and then as we hit the climbs Adam really performed very well against the best climbers and grand tour riders in the world.
“We are still chasing stage wins, that has always been our objective for this year’s Tour de France,” said White. “Of course it’s nice to have Adam in the white jersey but we will continue to approach the race day by day.”
“Tomorrow’s stage is a different kind of hard to today, it could very well be a day for the breakaway. The climbing starts right at the beginning. There are more valleys whereas today was simply relentless.”
How it happened:
Today’s mountainous stage eight got underway under blazing sunshine in the French Pyrenees with attacks springing immediately out of the neutral zone.
The attentive peloton were not allowing any move to go clear until they were well and truly satisfied with the situation so after 25kilometres the race was still together.
A fast first hour of racing saw the peloton cover 51kilometres as they raced towards the start of the day’s first climb, the Col du Tourmalet.
Thirteen riders managed to gain 30seconds on the peloton at the start of the Tourmalet, the group included Michael Matthews and a few kilometres later he swept up the first sprint points on offer.
The group broke up soon after when Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) went clear as the gradients of the infamous climb ramped up.
Splits were forming throughout the field with Yates in the group of overall favourites at the head of the peloton. Race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) were among those losing contact.
As Pinot and Majka crested the summit of the Tourmalet they had two minutes 35seconds on the bunch with two smaller groups further back.
Movistar and Team-Sky were leading the chase down the descent and on towards the next climb, the Horquette d’Ancizan, with 80kilometres to go.
The Yates/favourites group continued to thin out due to the injections of speed from Team-Sky on the Ancizan climb and further reducing the gap to the leaders.
With 42kilometres left to race only 35seconds separated the favourites and Majka who was now pushing on alone. Less than a kilometre later and Majka was also absorbed as Movistar and Team-Sky continued to set the tempo.
The Yates group skipped onto the fast and technical descent of the Col de Val Louron around ten minutes ahead of the yellow jersey of Van Avermaet with the final climb, the iconic Col de Peyresourde up next.
Seven kilometres with an average gradient of 7.8% and reports of the tarmac melting in the heat, the challenging Peyresourde provided the platform for the first battles between the overall contenders to begin in earnest.
Sergio Henao (Team-Sky) was the first to accelerate but only succeeded in splitting the group momentarily. Froome followed the action with another burst of speed and this time the gap formed.
Thirteen riders broke clear including Yates. The ORICA-BikeExchange rider rode excepetionally, matching every attack that followed all the way to the summit.
As the group crested the Peyresourde Froome launched a surprise attack into the descent, immediately gaining a slight advantage the Sky rider held twelve seconds going into the final ten kilometres.
An intense chase followed with Froome at 20seconds going into the final two kilometres.
The Sky Rider sped through the last pair of corners to take the stage victory and the race lead, Yates crossed the line in 7th place only 13seconds behind Froome.
Tomorrow is the third consecutive day in the Pyrenees and covers 184.5 kilometres from Viehla Val d’Aran to Andorre Arcalis. Five categorised climbs dotted with long sweeping descents through the valleys the Hors category Climb up to Andorre Arcalis is the first real summit finish of this years Tour de France.
Tour de France stage eight results:
1. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 04:57:33
2. Daniel Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) 00:00:13
3. Joaquin Rodriquez (Katusha) 00:00:13
7. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:13
General classification after stage eight:
1. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 39:13:04
2. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:16
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) 00:00:16