Neo-pro Adam Yates scored his first professional victory in style on the Tour of Turkey stage six summit finish. The Briton crossed the finish line alone with a handful of seconds on a chase group that took shape in response to his stage-winning attack. Yates reached Selçuk with a 7” advantage over race leader Rein Taaramäe (Cofids) to move into the turquoise race leader’s jersey.
The win is the fourth for ORICA-GreenEDGE in a hugely successful week that thus far includes three stage wins, one day in yellow at the Tour de Romandie and a monumental victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège last Sunday.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Yates. “We have two more days yet to try to seal up the overall. I guess if it all goes to plan and we take the general classification, it will really mean something after that. For now, I’m happy with the result. The guys rode well all day.”
“This shows what we already knew,” said Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage. “Adam has great potential. We started this race with the idea to give our young riders a chance to go for a stage win. We weren’t talking about the overall. It’s been perfect.”
“For a 21-year-old, Adam is really mature,” Lapage added. “As a team, our strong point is that we don’t put any pressure on our young guys, but we know that they put on the pressure – and he handles it very well.”
Yates finished second to Taaramäe on Tuesday on the Turkish Tour’s first summit finish. The duo had distanced themselves from the reduced bunch by the time they reached the finish line putting Yates in prime position to challenge for the overall lead on Friday. The stage win was the goal. The leader’s jersey would be an added bonus.
A six rider breakaway dominated the early action. When the gap between the leaders and the peloton extended just beyond the six minute mark, Cofidis took up the chase. Twenty eight kilometres from the finish, the break had rejoined the bunch.
“We were in a great position,” explained Lapage. “We started the day in second with one of the best climbers in the peloton, but we never had to take control of the chase. Cofidis was there with first overall and third overall. If they wanted to keep the jersey, they would have to bring the break back.”
“We’re down to five riders,” Lapage added. “It was the perfect position for us because of our situation. The boys looked after Adam all day and left him at the end to race all the climbers. The support from the team was great, and the way Adam rode was perfect.”
Riders from several different teams attempted to slip away from the bunch in the run in toward the final climb. None were allowed a long leash. Cofidis, Caja Rural, Torku, Astana and Lampre-Merida all showed their faces at the front. Yates bided his time.
“It was quite windy out there today,” said Yates. “There was a lot of crosswinds. The team took the wind for me all day. They put me in a good position for the climb. In a way, they made my life quite easy. From there, all I had do was a four or five kilometre uphill effort.”
Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) attacked inside the three kilometre mark. The reduced bunch upped the pace and brought him back into their fold. Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) was the next to jump away from the front group. Hansen countered Conti’s move. Just before the one kilometre mark, Yates launched his missive. He made it look easy as he rode away from the front group, past the rider ahead and into the lead alone. An isolated Taaramäe made a brave attempt to respond but could only limit his losses.
“I had planned to go around the one kilometre mark,” said Yates. “That’s exactly what I did. There were a couple guys off at that point, and I used them as a springboard. That worked out quite well for me. I passed them all and held everyone off until the end.”
“I looked behind a few times,” Yates added. “I could see a couple guys chasing. I knew there was someone from Cannondale and another guy from the Polish team. I couldn’t see Taaramäe. I didn’t know where he was.”
While the turquoise leader’s jersey may have not been the stated objective, now that Yates has it, he intends to keep it all the way to Istanbul. Although Yates carries only a single second advantage into the weekend road stages, the remaining days of racing present limited opportunities for Tarramäe to take back time.
“We talked about the stage win,” said Yates. “Of course, when you go for a stage on a climb like this, you know that if you get the stage, you’re going to take out time on the other guys. I went into the day with the mindset that I wanted to win the stage. Obviously in aiming for the stage, I knew I had a chance to take the jersey.”
“Of course we’re going to defend the jersey,” said Lapage. “For me, it seems the last two days are a big chance for a bunch sprint. A lot of sprint teams will want to go for the wins. There is one guy on 1” but the other riders are further back, so we have some space to breathe. We only have five guys left, but we’re strong enough to control it.”
1. Adam Yates (GBR/Omega) 4hr 11min 46sec, 2. Davide Formolo
(ITA/Cannondale) at 2sec, 3. Davide Rebellin (ITA/CCC Polsat) same time, 4.
Rein Taaramae (EST/Cofidis) 7, 5. Kristijan Durasak (CRO/Lampre) s.t.
1. Adam Yates (GBR/Omega) 24h 46:57, 2. Rein Taaramae (EST/Cofidis) 1, 3.
Romain Hardy (FRA/Cofidis) 39, 4. Davide Formolo (ITA/Cannondale) 40, 5.
Davide Rebellin (ITA/CCC Polsat) 44