Wed, May 15, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Yates targets unfinished business

OOZING CONFIDENCE:Mitchelton-Scott rider Simon Yates said his rivals should be scared of him as he labeled himself the top favorite for the three-week race

Reuters, ORBETELLO, Italy

Riders complete stage three of the 102nd Giro d’Italia, 220km from Vinci to Orbetello, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Simon Yates has unfinished business at the Giro d’Italia after a spectacular collapse in the finale last year and the Briton is oozing confidence on his return for this year’s race.

Last year, the Mitchelton-Scott rider spent 13 days with the Maglia Rosa before paying for his efforts in the 19th stage and dropping out of contention, losing more than half an hour in the final Alpine leg.

Since then, the 26-year-old has won the Vuelta a Espana, and has been focusing solely on this year’s Giro.

Yates has said that his rivals should be scared of him as he labeled himself the top favorite for the three-week race that will end in Verona, Italy, on June 2.

“He is confident. He is showing his confidence. Riders these days don’t give too much away, but nothing caught people by surprise,” his sports director Matt White said. “He is confident and he is happy with where he is at.”

Yates took second place after the opening time trial behind Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic, whom he trailed by 19 seconds going into yesterday’s fourth stage.

Two-time Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali — although he asked Yates to show his rivals more respect — smiled as he welcomed the breath of fresh air from an “over the top” rider.

Yates has matured since cracking on the slope of the Colle delle Finestre, prompting White to hint that his protege would maybe ride more conservatively this time.

“He’s had a good preparation coming into this race. He’s confident. He’s worked toward this for the past 12 months,” White said. “Last year, we had a plan. We were too aggressive and we rectified that plan for the Vuelta and it worked quite well. He led a grand tour for two weeks — got the experience of leading a grand tour and winning a grand tour.”

Yates paid dearly to learn that the Giro can be unpredictable, but this year the Corsa Rosa is his only focus.

“His preparations since October to November last year have all been building for this race, even the races he did in the spring,” said White, who believes that the climber now has the maturity to win the world’s second-greatest stage race after the Tour de France.

“He is a great leader. It has been a gradual process over the past four years. He’s won stages on grand tours — two on the Vuelta, three on the Giro — and a white jersey, for the best under-25 rider on the Tour in 2017,” White said.

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