For a much delayed Tour de France that offered a few fans as little coronavirus as possible and none of the famous British drivers who won it recently, the first week of this three-week adventure had a familiar feel. A British guy in yellow.
“He had some kind of parasite – he was on the ground,” his team at Mitchelton-Scott said of an illness Yates contracted a few weeks before the biggest cycling race.
“There was a lot of vomiting – we think of the water from the fountain he drank.
“It hit him for six – he had 10 days completely without a bike, then two or three weeks when he was definitely in restricted training. And that was right when we go hard on training. ”
But thanks to the 28-year-old’s efforts, it was only the third time his Australian team wore the yellow jersey in their eight-year history.
It’s also a moment of pride for Yates, who won the yellow jersey in Wednesday’s fifth stage and brilliantly retained it on day one in the Pyrenees – Saturday’s furious descent at Loudenvielle over the col de Peyresourde – as his teammates retired. one by one.
It has been an impressive opening week, given that Mitchelton-Scott did not bring a team to France for having lasted in the high mountains. Now they just have to do what they came with Yates to do: win a stage.
Although highly regarded in the sport, Yates, born in Bury, surprisingly never won a Grand Tour stage. His twin brother, Simon, who also rides for Michelton-Scott won seven and General Vuelta a Espana in 2018.
This year, Simon leaves for the Giro d’Italia against Geraint Thomas d’Ineos.
And, no, Adam doesn’t agree with his brother’s more decorated career to date. There are “a few jokes” about it, the team says.
Power of people
Will there be crowds? Or will there be no crowds? No one seemed really sure before the race.
The organizers of the ASO tour welcomed “some” and promised there would be a screening. And, so far, it doesn’t appear to have caused the canning of the entire race two weeks before arriving in Paris on September 20.
It was thrilling to see the traditional crowd of disguised supporters passionately waving flags and shouting in the runners’ faces on the Col de Peyresourde on Saturday in the race’s first really grueling test so far. But the masks seem to be falling and fans are getting closer and closer to their heroes.
So what we already knew has happened: you can’t impose social distancing at the Tour de France.
Many still fear the breed may implode. German sprinter Andre Griepel of Froome’s new team for next year, Israel Start Up Nation, asked fans to take a step back.
The star of the week has to go to Belgian Wout van Aert from Jumbo-Visma – the Dutch team who have as much strength and firepower as Ineos this year.
Van Aert had an amazing opening week, he helped in the hills and he cheated all the sprinters by passing them on the fifth stage in Privas, before repeating the feat again on the seventh stage in Lavaur after fighting all day for his heavyweight team. cross winds.
It comes after winning one of the sport’s most prestigious one-day races – the Milan-San Remo – and Strade Bianche in August.
How did he celebrate? By announcing that he and his wife are expecting a baby boy in January. That’s a far cry from how he recognized last year’s wins when he “bought himself some goats and his wife,” according to the team.
A tribute to Portal
The start of the Tour was not easy for the previously dominant Ineos Grenadiers.
They almost lost one of their best servants to Pavel Sivakov, having crashed twice during the treacherous opening stage in Nice, while the second protected driver Richard Carapaz lost two minutes on the seventh stage . But last year’s winner Egan Bernal is heading into this race and now looks fit.
But the same goes for Primoz Roglic from Jumbo-Visma. The Slovenian took the yellow jersey in the ninth stage and is 21 seconds ahead of Bernal, second.
Before the ninth stage on Sunday in Pau, Ineos paid tribute to their sporting director Nico Portal, died of a heart attack in March. Portal, a local from the French city, has been an integral part of Sky / Ineos’ success since the team’s debut in 2009.