Adam Yates knows his time in yellow is nearly at an end

Four questions with the placeholder yellow jersey.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 05.07.2023 Photography by
Gruber Images
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Adam Yates is coming to the end of his time in the yellow jersey. It’s different to when other yellow jersey placeholders wear it. They are usually your average Tour de France rider, where the joy spills over and their stint in the race lead is like that of a competition winner.

The thing is that Adam Yates is a good – really good – bike rider. The yellow jersey hasn’t arrived as that much of a shock to him. When he took yellow in 2020, it was as a result of Julian Alaphilippe’s time penalty and Yates’ reaction was one of consternation rather than pure emotion or joy. It’s because he’s a rider who’s finished fourth before in the Tour and is good enough to wear yellow.

Multiply that by the fact he is also widely acknowledged to be keeping the yellow jersey warm for teammate Tadej Pogačar and it’s even harder to apply the standard meaning of an early-race yellow to him. Finally, he mostly eschews any sort of attention from the media; any interaction is strictly business and dealt with in the utmost professional manner.

At the end of stage 4, a day where not that much happened, an ASO media officer walks over to us and asks if we’d like to speak to Adam Yates.

“Yeah?” we replied, having never been asked this question previously before in our lives. You know what, sure. He’s the yellow jersey, his time in the race lead deserves to be honoured and documented, plus he’s the strongest teammate of the two-time champion Pogačar. Plus, speaking into a microphone to ask a rider a question is always quite a thrill (even if you’re not supposed to admit that).

So, sat down with a smattering of our other colleagues in the press room, we were granted four questions with Adam Yates as we come to the likely end of his tenure in the race lead of the 2023 Tour de France. The answers are revealing. In another team, perhaps, there would be talk of fighting to hold yellow, even to Paris. But even Yates, with all his success, knows – openly acknowledges, even – that his time in the jersey will soon end.

How much do you think you being in the yellow jersey has cost the team? Seeing as the ultimate goal is to win the Tour with Tadej.

Last two days the sprinters have rode, first day was a bit messy and no one was really riding full gas, so really we’re not wasting too much energy. Morale is high obviously and yeah, we’re ready to go on with the mountains and we’re ready to fight for every second.

With the way the route is this year, do you expect us to have a pretty good idea of how the GC will end up shaking out after these first couple of mountain stages?

I think just the nature of racing these days, there are no days where everyone looks at each other; this is the Tour de France. I think for me I expect full-gas racing, especially the bonus seconds on the last climb there will be a big fight for that because the gaps aren’t too big at the moment. Tadej’s looking real good and he can sprint so good for us.

It’s all-in for Tadej, but what would it mean for you to potentially make the final podium in Paris?

It would be massive; I was fourth a long time ago now. To be on the podium of a Grand Tour is not that easy and if you’re working for someone day-in, day-out, then it would be nice obviously but if I’m working it’ll be pretty difficult … but you never know. Legs are good, team morale is good … but I think right now it’s unrealistic.

Even though it’s all-in for Tadej, is it going to be hard to say goodbye to this yellow jersey?

It’s been great to have it for the past few days, the support’s been great, everyone back home sending messages and stuff. In the end we want the yellow jersey in Paris and if that means Tadej takes some bonus seconds tomorrow and takes it off me then that’s fair enough. I came to the team with the idea that I’d help Tadej in the Tour, and here I am, just because I’m in yellow now doesn’t mean much. It’s a fantastic experience and privilege for me. I was always signed to help Tadej in the Tour so I’m happy to help.

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