It’s been four years since Adam Yates finished fourth in the Tour de France, a result which at the time seemed to confirm him as Mitchelton-Scott’s yellow jersey contender for years to come?
My, how quickly things can change in the upside down world of professional cycling. No situation illustrates this better than the composition of Mitchelton-Scott’s 2020 Tour de France, as well as the team’s message around its ambitions during the race. Yates is back for his fifth Tour de France, aged 28. This is the first age of candidates for men of his abilities. Still, Mitchelton-Scott management has made it known that Yates and his teammates will not be aiming for a GC race, and will instead be firmly aiming for stage wins throughout the three-week race.
It’s easy to see why, of course. In 2019, Mitchelton-Scott had his best tour of all time, dropping the GC playbook and targeting stage wins instead. The Australian team claimed four stage victories with three riders during the race, with Daryl Impey, Simon Yates and Matteo Trentin all winning in spectacular fashion.
Meanwhile, Adam Yates just hasn’t become the Tour de France contender since those hopeful days in 2016. And, as his brother signed a new deal with the Australian squad, Adam seems likely to leave after 2020.
Jack Bauer and Sam Bewley (both in New Zealand), Esteban Chaves (Colombia), Daryl Impey (South Africa), Chris Juul-Jensen (Denmark), Luka Mezgek (Slovenia), Mikel Nieve (Spain), Adam Yates (Britain) .
At first glance, Mitchelton-Scott’s lineup seems tailor-made for a targeted race on the yellow jersey, with a well-rounded roster of climbers, rollers and workhorses for the flat. Draft horses Jack Bauer, Chris Juul-Jensen and Sam Bewley will protect the team on the plateaus and hills. Impey is back for one more round of the Tour before jumping to Israel Start-Up Nation, and he will undoubtedly attack in the breakaways on the rolling and transition stages.
Tour rookie Luka Mezgec, a competent sprinter and breakaway, is also looking for opportunities on the flattest or hilly stages.
The Mountain Team is where the Mitchelton-Scott will see the biggest deviation from the norm. Mikel Nieve, one of the best climbs servants of that time, will have carte blanche to aim for victories, rather than being handcuffed to a teammate for rhythm tasks. Colombian climber Esteban Chaves will also be allowed to fly. Adding Chaves to the team increases his chances of winning in the high mountains. In 2018 and 2019, Chaves achieved top-of-the-mountain victories at the Giro d’Italia after being released from domesticated duty.
While it can be hard to swallow, Mitchelton-Scott is right to abandon his hunt for quixotic GC in favor of stage wins. Fans may be reluctant to see the longtime GC squad outside the tight circle of yellow contenders, but we can’t challenge management’s decision. If the team can get closer to their stage victory from 2019, then the 2020 Tour de France will be more than a success.
Impey is expected to attack in the breakaways on stages 7, 12 and 14. Keep an eye out for Chaves and Nieve for stages 8, 15 and 17. And the steep climbs on stage 18 could be fine for Yates. Regardless of the stage, however, it’s a safe bet that Mitchelton-Scott will have a rider in search of glory.