When Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) appeared at the front of the exclusive group of general classification contenders on the steep concrete path up the Monte Oiz, it came as something of a jolt. You’d be forgiven for forgetting that there were two Yates at the Vuelta a España, such had been Adam’s relative anonymity for the first 16 stages, but his performance for his brother Simon on the Basque mountain indicated he will play a leading role in the denouement of this race.
While Simon Yates had always planned to target the overall title, after coming close to winning the Giro d’Italia, Adam came to the Vuelta on the back of a disappointing Tour de France, with the stated aim of gaining experience by putting another Grand Tour in the bank.
Yet there was a deeper reason Yates had been so quiet for so much of the Vuelta, and that was specifically so that he could have maximum impact in the final week. On the top of Monte Oiz, the red jersey described his twin brother as his ‘secret weapon’. Sections of the Spanish media talked of a ‘four-legged Yates’.
“That was always the plan. When it’s been a bit of an easier day or not as important I’ve been staying out of trouble. The first nine days everyone is fresh and raring to go, but I was just sitting up and saving energy,” Adam Yates told Cyclingnews in Ejea de los Caballeros on Thursday.
“You do save a lot. When you sit up with 10km to go and it’s a 10km climb you can save a lot of energy. It makes it a lot easier when you’ve had a lot of rest days, compared to these guys, who are on it day in day out, and suffering. I’m a lot fresher than everyone else and that’s an advantage for us.”
The slipstream may have counted for precious little on the 20 per cent gradients of Monte Oiz but, even so, Adam Yates’ presence, as contenders like Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) fell away, was no doubt a morale boost for Simon, not to mention it giving the option of a well-fitting replacement bike in the event of an untimely mechanical problem.
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