Simon Yates’ time loss to Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) on the final climb up to Prato Nevoso was nothing to be concerned about, Yates’ Mitchelton-Scott directeur sportif Matt White said after stage 18, and that better was to come on Friday’s 19th stage to Bardonecchia, which is far more suited to the race leader’s skill-set – even though the attacks will come from their rivals.
The Australian team’s no-nonsense Aussie DS was never going to dance around the subject, plainly answering reporters’ questions at the finish while maintaining a positive outlook on Yates’ chances for the rest of the race.
“It’s not ideal that Simon lost time today, but it was a climb that really suited Tom,” White said. “It was a power climb – one effort – and we know how powerful Tom is in short efforts. Tomorrow we go back into the real mountains, and it’s going to be a bit of a grind tomorrow, so it’ll be a different bike race all together.”
Asked whether it was a surprise that Yates lost so much time over just a couple of kilometres, White suggested that it was a mere blip on an otherwise virtually faultless performance by his rider over the last two-and-half weeks.
“Maybe it was a bit of a surprise, but that’s because Simon hasn’t shown any weakness for 19 days,” said White. “But if that was a climb of seven or eight kilometres at 10 or 12 per cent, it would have been a different climb all together. Simon’s a pure climber, and that was pretty flat and fast today [Thursday] in the final, so it’s not ideal, but these next two days are real Alpine climbs and they fall more into Simon’s category.
“Tom could have a bad day tomorrow, too,” he pointed out. “He’s gone very deep today for those last couple of minutes. No one knows how guys are going to react in the third week, and if that was Yates’ bad day at this tour, then, well, that’s not so bad.”
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