The Italian job - Alps winner Yates ready for Giro assault

Briton Simon Yates has set his sights on the Giro d'Italia title next month after delivering his Australian team the overall victory at the Tour of the Alps.

Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange

Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange Source: Getty / Getty Images

Yates dominated the mountainous five-day race from the start, wrapping up his victory for Australia's professional outfit, Team BikeExchange, in the final stage.

Felix Grossschartner won on the tour finale into Riva del Garda while the 28-year-old Englishman crossed the line in a much-reduced peloton to retain his 58-second advantage over Spanish runner-up Pello Bilbao.

But Yates' excellent form throughout the week promised much for BikeExchange as the 2018 Vuelta a Espana winner targets a second Grand Tour triumph, this time in the Giro, which starts in May.

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The Italian job was on his mind as he noted afterwards: "I feel good. Now we just need to look after ourselves, try not to get sick, try not to get injured and try to arrive to the Giro d'Italia in the best possible shape."

In this week's tour, Yates was always in control, looking particularly impressive when claiming the Queen stage on the second day and also flourishing on the penultimate mountain stage. 

"I am really happy, it was a fantastic result, the guys did an amazing job - not just today but all week and we really gelled as a team," he said.

Team BikeExchange head sport director Matt White looked back on a successful week - which also saw one of their Australian riders, Nick Schultz, finish 10th overall - admitting that half an eye had been on the Giro preparations.

"We came here with the primary goal to go through the process to get ready as a team for our major goal of the Giro d'Italia and I think we ticked a lot of boxes," White said. 

"Winning the race was the objective but also to bring this group of riders together and it worked very well.

"It gives us great confidence going into the Giro and we have some fresh faces and old hands coming in."

Last year's edition of the Giro, which was held late in the pandemic-hit year, turned sour for Yates when he had to abandon before the start of stage 8 after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Australian Jai Hindley, though, made a striking breakthrough, finishing overall runner-up behind Englishman Tao Geoghegan-Hart in a thrilling finale.


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Published 25 April 2021 at 10:21am
Source: AAP