Great Britain's Adam Yates rides during a breakaway in the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, southwestern France, on July 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jeff PACHOUD
Great Britain's Adam Yates rides during a breakaway in the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, southwestern France, on July 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jeff PACHOUD

‘Gutted’: Yates’ luckless Tour hits a new low

MITCHELTON-Scott have again been denied a stage win in the cruellest way, with Adam Yates crashing in the closing kilometres while leading the race.

Yates surged clear on the last climb of the 218km Stage 16 - the Col du Portillon - and was 22 seconds clear of a Julian Alaphilippe with just 10km remaining.

But the Australian team's luckless Tour campaign hit a new low when their British leader, under pressure from a rapidly closing Alaphilippe, hit the bitumen on a left-hand bend and was overtaken as he remounted his bike.

Alaphilippe went on to win his second stage of this year's race, while Yates limped over the line in third, with Gorka Izaguirre sandwiched in between.

Adam Yates crashing in the closing kilometres while leading the race.
Adam Yates crashing in the closing kilometres while leading the race.

"It's one of them things. I've taken more risks on more technical descents before and never had any problems," Yates said afterwards.

"We recon all the stages, but you never know what's coming up. It was a bit damp or something, and I just came down. That's all there is to it.

"My morale is pretty damaged right now. When you come so close to winning a stage of the Tour de France it's pretty devastating, not just for me but for my team."

It was a bitter pill for rider and team to swallow after Yates' title hopes were unexpectedly shattered when he was dropped on Stage 11. That was also the same day teammate Mikel Nieve was overtaken by Geraint Thomas within sight of the finish line.

Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White said Yates was "gutted", but was quick to say the team would fight on.

"When you've got Alaphilippe, one of the world's best descenders, coming up fast, there was a lot of pressure on Adam to rail that descent and to take some risks. We were directly behind Alaphilippe in the car and some of the positions we saw him get into, I've never seen before in my life," White said.

"We were directly behind him and he is one of the best, if not the best, descender in the bunch. Adam is pretty disappointed. It's a stage win at the Tour de France, and he's just missed it. The race isn't over, but that was a big chance.

"The race is not finished. It was one opportunity today and we'll go again. Of course we're disappointed, we wanted to win the stage. As we saw today, (Yates) is back in incredible form."

Yates wasn't the only crash to turn heads as the Tour entered the Pyrenees. Belgian star Philippe Gilbert lost control 60km earlier on another descent and flew spectacularly over a concrete wall and disppeared down a hill.

Gilbert managed to get back on his bike and finish, where he was immediately sent for scans.

The general classification battle ended in a tame draw, with Geraint Thomas taking the race leader's yellow jersey into Wednesday's pivotal 65km climbing test. It is the day most believe will decide the winner of this year's Tour.

"It will be massively decisive. There will be some big gaps," Thomas said.

"It's the first time we've done a stage like this. It will be two hours of climbing, which is a lot over a short distance. We've got to be clever about it ... you don't want to be over-excited at the start because that last climb is possibly the toughest climb of the Tour."

Of the 176 riders to start the Tour de France, only 148 took to the start line for Stage 16 in Carcassonne after Australian Damien Howson and Belgian Serge Pauwels abandoned.

Class standings after the 16th stage of the Tour de France

Points: 1. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOR) 452 pts

2. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/EAU) 170

3. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ) 133

4. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) 130

5. John Degenkolb (GER/TRE) 128

6. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/QST) 119

7. Andrea Pasqualon (ITA/WGG) 100

8. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/QST) 91

9. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAH) 76

10. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/LOT) 71

King of Mountains:

1. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/QST) 122 pts

2. Warren Barguil (FRA/FST) 73

3. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 30

4. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 29

5. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 28

6. David Gaudu (FRA/FDJ) 25

7. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EFD) 23

8. Tom Dumoulin (NED/SUN) 23

9. Rudy Molard (FRA/FDJ) 22

10. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) 20

 

Team overall:

1. Bahrain 204hr 39min 03sec

2. Movistar at 1:08

3. Astana 56:02

4. Sky 57:33

5. LottoNL 58:56

6. BMC 1hr 24:46

7. Giant 1hr 33:01

8. AG2R La Mondiale 1hr 37:05

9. Mitchelton 1hr 41:20

10. Etixx 1hr 51:57