Simon Yates’ Tour de France breakaway victory hunt is not just about securing prestigious victories in cycling’s stage race, but also getting a head start on opposition in the Olympics. from Tokyo, said Team BikeExchange management.
Yates was in the 29-rider one-day break on Friday, the first move he’s entered in this year’s Tour. Then he was one of the few runners to dig again on Saturday to embark on another movement, which ended in sixth place for Yates at Le Grand Bornand.
Team principal Matt White said Cycling news on Monday’s rest day, âhe’s really starting to race now. But there is more to Yates’ strategy, he added, than “just” the Tour.
After Yates took third place in the Giro d’Italia, “the plan was to recover from Italy and then use the Tour de France as the cornerstone of the Olympics,” White explained.
âOf all the favorites, he’s going to have one of the best preparations for this race. He picks and chooses when he goes after the stages, and in my opinion, rather than going in depth every day, this is definitely the best way to prepare for the Games.
As Yates’ first breakaway came on Friday, Team BikeExchange’s other top performing player for the Tour, Michael Matthews, has been at the heart of the action since day one of the Tour de France.
Matthews finished second in stage one, fourth on another day and currently sits second in the green jersey competition, behind Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and ahead of Italian national champion Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious).
However, White is a little pessimistic about Matthews’ chances of snatching the Tour points standings for the second time in his career. But he sees a possible way forward.
“One problem is that Sonny is certainly showing that he is in the shape of his life after this race yesterday. [where he placed third] and Mark Cavendish is also in a rich vein of form. I realistically think the only way for us to win the green jersey is if Mark gets knocked out [on a mountain stage by not making the time cut – Ed.]”
While acknowledging that the Briton is back at the peak of his sprinting form, as is clearly the case, White predicts that Cavendish could have limits on his rise in this year’s Tour given the special circumstances surrounding his appearance. in the race.
âMark will be in contention for a few more stage wins in week two. But where he could struggle is when we enter the Pyrenees because Mark was not preparing for the Tour. He was selected only because Sam Bennett is injured. He hasn’t done a GT for a few years and he’s clearly regained his sprinting mojo. But I think the end of this race is going to hurt Mark more than most. “
Returning to the Team BikeExchange camp with Matthews currently well placed in the green jersey competition, White warns the Aussie faces an uphill struggle to engage in breakaway moves and win small group sprints as well.
âI think QuickStep will take him out of the winning breakaways and Colbrelli will follow him. So we just have to pick our times when we go for intermediate sprints and pick up points here and there. “
While Yates is on the rise and Matthews faces a tough scenario right now in search of another win, Team BikeExchange has had a relatively unscathed first week of crash. Only one rider, the Norwegian Amund Jansen was in difficulty. It crashed hard in Stage 1, then crashed again three days ago.
“He got off yesterday by the hairs on his chin,” White said of Jansen. “It was only five seconds from the time limit, and a day off was definitely what the doctor ordered.”
“There is still a lot to defend on the Tour”
As for the GC battle, with Team BikeExchange not a protagonist White is a privileged observer. While the strength of race leader Tadej PogaÄar is as evident to him as it is to anyone else, he argues that the idea that the Slovenian took yellow too early could risk wearing down his UAE squad. Team Emirates.
âTwo weeks can seem like a long time to control a race. But in the end, Pogacar showed he was the strongest. So the further we go in the race, the more teams we will see working to defend the minor rankings.
âYou can throw cover on the nine GC guys behind him and that’s when you start to see weird things happen,â White said.
“Like teams chasing after a break because ninth place is on the road. Or teams starting to ride because they are aiming for the team classification. Or a team like ours that will control the 30 kilometer race like us. did it yesterday [Sunday] because we wanted an intermediate sprint without sprinters.
âIt is therefore a long time to hold the yellow. But I think his team is doing well and he’s on another level above everyone else. They don’t need to roll to bring back breaks. All they have to do is keep things at a safe distance. ”
For examples of this unusual style of racing happening with a very dominant Tour leader and how it is already starting to emerge, White cites the case of Ineos Grenadiers working at the top of the favorites group on Sunday. This happened, he argued, as it was too risky to give Ben O’Connor (AG2R-CitroÃ«n) a six-minute advantage in the podium battle.
“So there is a lot of reason to fight in this year’s Tour,” he added. “Just maybe not for the win.”
As for O’Connor and whether the Australian can now hold onto his second place finish, White said the key question is how his compatriot is recovering from Sunday’s long breakaway. He also remembers that three years ago, O’Connor was well placed in the Giro d’Italia from his Grand Tour debut until three days from the end, when he crashed. This bodes well.
However, as White put it, âThe guys in the top 10 are all going to have good days and bad days. But it’s their way of dealing with bad days that decides who gets on the podium in Paris.
And this is as true for O’Connor as it is for Pogacar and the others, all the way to the Champs-ÃlysÃ©es on July 18th.