They say making a Grand Tour podium for the first time is a breakthrough moment for any rider’s career. But as far as Adam Yates is concerned, the short-term consequences of taking third in the Tour de France last July are not going to be overly noticeable.
“I don’t think so,” Yates says when asked if he will now enjoy protected status in July after standing alongside teammate Tadej Pogačar in last year’s Paris podium.
“Maybe you know more than me, but as far as I’m aware my job is the same. I came to this team with the idea of helping Tadej win the Tour and last year we got reasonably close: we had two guys on the podium, we won four stages, only one guy was better than us…”
When it comes to deciding the UAE Team Emirates hierarchy at the 2024 Tour, Yates dismisses as irrelevant the fact that he was presented by manager Mauro Gianetti as a co-leader alongside Pogačar prior to last year’s race. As he sees it, that ‘co-leadership’ line was simply a smoke-screen.
“That was just to ease a bit of pressure on Tadej: he’d had a heavy spring, the injury, but we all knew in training camp that he was good. It was just to be safe, a back-up plan, so if nothing goes wrong this time, he’s the boss.”
Mid-to-long term, though, in the light of what he achieved last July, Yates does view his options as a stage racer as being much higher. But if gunning for the Tour is not a possibility, he might be up for a GC battle as soon as August 2024 – or if not then, perhaps in May 2025.
“Obviously I would like to be a leader in a Grand Tour in my own right – maybe in the Vuelta if I come out of the Tour well. If I feel good and fresh, the team say they’ll give me an opportunity, though there are a lot of guys on the team who can do a good GC result, so we’ll have to see.”
Warming to his point, he adds, “Maybe I can do a different programme one year: I’ve done the Tour many times, but only done the Giro once and the Vuelta quite a few times. So maybe next year I could ask for the Giro and have my opportunity there.”
But it’s not only Yates’ third place overall in the Tour, the stage 1 win and his race lead for four days that contribute to his current upbeat stance about his 2024 season and beyond.
Prior to July he clinched overall victory in the Tour de Romandie, second in the Criterium du Dauphiné and a summit finish stage win and third place in the UAE Tour. In the second half of the season, he was the fastest of the pack at the GP…