Yates to take the White Jersey all the way to Paris after stormy stage 20 at the TDFSat 23 Jul 2016
Adam Yates is set to become the first Briton to wear the white jersey of the Tour de France and take it all the way to Paris after another strong performance for ORICA-BikeExchange on stage 20 saw the 23-year-old seal fourth place overall.
Having all but secured his victory in the best young rider category, Yates fought all the way to the line for 13th place and an incredible fourth on the general classification that will give the Australian team its best overall result at the Tour.
The second wet and stormy mountain stage in succession saw a large breakaway form on the first climb before Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) made the winning move to take the stage victory after a treacherous descent to the finish in Morzine.
“Yesterday wasn’t my best day and we ended up just missing out on the podium, but of course I’m super happy,” said Yates at the stage finish. “Barring any bad luck on tomorrow's last stage to Paris then these should be the final results and I’m very satisfied with what we’ve achieved.”
“This is only my second Tour de France and I am only 23years old so I will definitely be back and I hope to challenge for the podium, if not more in the future.
“I am glad it's over, it has been a long, tiring three weeks and the team have been fantastic day in, day out.”
Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) finished in the Yates group and retains the race lead and the yellow jersey going into tomorrow’s final stage.
Sport director Matt White described how the difficult conditions contributed to the cagey racing witnessed on stage 20.
“Today was always going to be a stressful day,” said White. “There was so much at stake for most of the top ten and with so much on the line it's natural to be reluctant to take the risk, especially in those conditions.”
“When you take race leader Chris Froome out of the equation, this is probably one of the closest general classifications in modern Tour de France history and you could see from today’s finale how closely everyone marked each other with nobody wanting to lose any ground.
“It was a very tough stage and the weather made it even harder, the slippery road surface made the favourites very cautious and unfortunately that meant the opportunity to try and gain back some time never arose for us."
How it happened:
A fast and furious start to stage 20 saw the field completely break apart within the first 20kilometres. Around 40 riders went clear immediately out of the neutral zone, the group included Michael Matthews and Chris Juul-Jensen of ORICA-BikeExchange.
By the time the first climb arrived the peloton had also split and was made up of 50 riders including race leader Froome and white jersey Adam Yates.
As the race hit the second climb of the day, the category one Col de la Colombiere, the rain was falling heavily and the breakaway had three minutes on the yellow jersey group.
Tinkoff had Peter Sagan and Roman Kreuziger in the break with Sagan driving the pace for his teammate in an effort to make a late move up the general classification.
With 80kilometres to go the leader's group had split with eight riders off the front on the descent of the Colombiere. Both Tinkoff riders were in the first group alongside Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quickstep), Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Six minutes separated the Sagan group and the peloton containing Yates, Froome and most of the other contenders as the race approached the start of the Col de la Ramaz.
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) attacked on the Ramaz climb and crested the summit alone some 30seconds ahead of the closest chasers and over four minutes in front of the bunch with 50kilometres remaining.
The eight leaders came back together on the soaking wet descent of the Col de la Ramaz before Jarlinson Pantano (IAM-Cycling) and Alaphilippe launched a fresh attack.
Through the Alpine valley with 30kilometres to go and heading towards the final climb, the iconic Col de Joux Plane, Pantano and Alaphilippe were one minute ahead of the Kreuziger/Nibali group and the favourites group at nearly seven minutes.
Juul-Jensen and Daryl Impey were rotating off the front of the Yates/Froome group with Movistar and AG2R-La Mondiale in close attendance at the start of the Joux Plane.
Impey continued to amplify the speed on the lower slopes of the climb, stringing out the bunch behind him with riders losing contact as the cracks began to show.
As Impey pulled off with 18kilometres to go Team-Sky took up the tempo with less than twenty riders left in the group. Fabio Aru (Astana) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) were among those off the back.
Nibali bridged across to Pantano and Alaphilippe four kilometres from the summit of the Joux Plane and immediately dropped them both with the favourites' group now three and a half minutes behind.
Pantano caught back up to Nibali close to the summit, this time with Alaphilippe completely dropped and Izaguirre now on the wheel.
The trio launched themselves into the long, wet, technical nine-kilometre descent towards the finish less than three minutes ahead of the favourites group.
Izaguirre won the stage after descending fearlessly to the line with Yates finishing at the front of the favourites group in 13th place and fourth overall with one more ceremonial stage to come.
Tomorrow’s stage 21 is a celebratory run from Chantilly to Paris and the Champs Elysees. Covering 113kilometres the stage starts with three short climbs before arriving in Paris for the eight most famous finishing circuits in cycling.
Tour de France stage 20 results:
1. Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) 04:06:45
2. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM-Cycling) 00:00:19
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 00:-00:42
13. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:04:14
General classification after stage 20:
1. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 86:21:40
2. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) 00:04:05
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 00:04:21
4. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:04:42