• Adam Yates showed his class at the Tour de France this year (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Adam Yates has surpassed all expectations in this year's Tour de France - even after enduring a freak crash on Stage 7. Can he hang on to the podium all the way to Paris - and does he even want to?
By
Reuters

12 Jul 2016 - 6:26 AM  UPDATED 12 Jul 2016 - 6:30 AM

The Orica-Bike Exchange rider is second overall going into the first rest day, 16 seconds behind Chris Froome (Team Sky), and also wears the white jersey for the best rider under 25.

His lack of experience might play against the 23-year-old as a gruelling third week of racing looms, which often favours seasoned riders, but Yates is not worried.

"If I have a bad day and I lose a couple of minutes then it is what it is. If I have good legs I'll take my opportunity," he told reporters on Monday, his chin showing stitches after he somersaulted over a deflated 1km arch near the end of the seventh stage on Friday.

He is also expecting to lose 'four minutes' to Froome in Friday's individual time trial, a speciality in which the 58kg climber struggles.

Yates has already completed two grand tours, the Vuelta in 2014 and the Tour last year, albeit aiming for stage wins rather than an overall victory. However, Yates has the potential to be Tour de France winner and the time has now come for him to play with the best over three weeks, meaning a stage win has to come second to GC considerations.

"Last year was different because I was trying to get in the breakaway," he said. "For me it is more difficult to get in the break than to follow the GC guys. You spend the first hour, hour-and-a-half doing max sprints.

"It's a completely different kind of race, and for me a lot of the training I do is based on the final and the finish climb and race in a steady tempo."

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Even Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has suggested that Yates should focus on the general classification this year.

“I hope he tries to hang on to the podium,” said the Team Sky head said. “I know he came in and was talking about stage wins, but it’s obvious he’s a terrific talent, that he’s a general classification contender. At that age unless you go all the way and find out what it’s like and start to learn, you’re not going to get to a point where you can step up and win.

"So I think he should continue racing as hard as he can for three weeks, test himself and see how he gets on."

However, Yates, whose twin brother Simon also rides with Orica-Bike Exchange, would easily trade a decent overall finish in Paris against a stage win.

"If you come fifth in a grand tour it's nice but you don't get to raise your arms in the air, you don't celebrate," he said.

Retaining the white jersey all the way to Paris would not top a stage win either.

"It's nice but in the end if you win a stage you go down in history as a Tour de France stage winner," said Yates.