Sean Yates: “A day for Edvald or Simon…”
Before the start of stage 13, Rob Arnold spoke with Sean Yates from Team Sky to get his thoughts on an itinerary on a day that features the Col d’Aubisque and a long descent to the finish in Lourdes…
How are things going for the team now?
“Yeah, good but obviously it was a real bummer when Brad crashed out. All the signs were that he was in the form of his life. I watched him progress through the season and after all the hard work that he did I was devastated to see him have to abandon. A lot of the other contenders have also fallen by the wayside so it’s kind of… well, it reminds us that different things might happen if the circumstances worked another way and some of the guys had stayed on their bikes. But now Van den Broeck isn’t here, ‘Vino’ isn’t here, Horner isn’t here… and these guys had such bad luck.”
It’s a shame to see such a casualty list but Geraint was good yesterday. He just doesn’t stop, does he?
“He’s like the assassin. You say, ‘Be there.’ And he’s there! He’s a really good rider. He’s caught in a spot which is a bit unfortunate: he’s not the fastest sprinter, he’s not the greatest climber, he’s not the best TT rider… but he is the best lead-out man. So it’s difficult for him to really show his true qualities or to get the best results from those qualities. I think where he can be really good is in the Classics.”
I spoke to him yesterday and he said the last seven kilometers dragged on for a long time but it was still a bold move.
“Yeah and with Europcar chasing it spoiled our chances a little. If he was a little further down [the general classification] it might have been different. But Voeckler didn’t want to leave him out there too long. He’s a good rider and if you look at the history of stages like that, there are a lot of breaks that have gone the distance in that type of scenario so it was worth a go. If you don’t try, you don’t know.”
What’s the strategy today?
“First of all, the guys have got to go up the hill. For sure there are going to be attacks and a breakaway before the Aubisque. So we want a guy in the breakaway who can climb half decently and also be a bit clever and quick at the finish and when you think of those qualities, you’re looking at Edvald and Simon Gerrans.
“The plan today is to try and help those guys get in the right moves.
“For sure there’ll be a breakaway and we’ll see if it can go to the end.”
We’re also asking people involved in the Tour for their best memory of a downhill finish like the one for stage 13. In your career, does one stage stand out?
“Downhill finish? Well, there’s still some flat going to Lourdes… but I think it was in 1986 there was a day with two stages. We went up the Aubisque twice; once in the morning and in the afternoon we started at the bottom, went straight back up the way we’re going today and myself and Paul Sherwen – two climbers who weren’t worth a pinch – came over the top together and we were punching the air with delight. ‘That’s the last climb of the day! It’s all downhill to the finish…’
“That day, I think a break went all the way to the finish. I think Regis Simon won the stage and I remember he wore a skinsuit because it was such a short stage.
“That was a day that provided some of my best memories of going down a hill after climbing it in the Tour de France.”