Simon Yates stayed out of trouble on a very flat stage six of the 2020 Tirreno-Adriatico which was won by the Belgian champion, Tim Merlier, but faces a medium mountain stage and a final time trial in the remaining two days as he tries to seal the overall victory.
Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) took the overall lead on Friday’s stage five on the climb to Sarnano-Sassotetto where the British climber won by 35 seconds ahead of compatriot Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The Mitchelton-Scott rider leads the general classification by 16 seconds of Majka and 39 ahead of Thomas who sits in third.
Yates, talking after the stage, said: “Today was quite easy I think, there wasn’t much fight for the breakaway and the sprint teams took it up straight away so was an easy day.
“I think tomorrow [stage seven] will be very hard, very difficult to control so we will try and defend as best we can.”
Stage seven is a very lumpy stage that suits the likes of Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) among others with a 181km stage from Pieve Torina to a very hilly circuit around Loreto with an uphill kick to the line.
The final stage is the classic 10.1km individual time trial in an out and back route around San Benedetto del Tronto.
Yates’s brother, Adam, who is riding the Tour de France, lost the lead of the race by just one single second at last year’s race thanks to the time trial where a certain Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) took the overall win.
This year, Simon will look to hold off former British time trial champion Thomas on the final time trial, with both riders building form ahead of respective tilts at the Giro d’Italia title in October.
“[I] can’t say I’ve ever looked forward to a time trial before so probably not, but I’ll give it a good crack.” said Yates when asked about the upcoming final time trial.
Yates, who won the 2018 Vuelta a España, is at a similar time trialing level as Majka but he will be worried about the 2018 Tour de France winner, Thomas, who sits at 39 seconds.
Yates may look to isolate Thomas in the closing stages of stage seven to maybe gain a bit more time on his fellow Brit before the time trial.