(Montreal) Adam Yates did not hesitate when opening the curtains of his hotel room on Sunday morning. The Briton is capable of handling the pouring rain.
“When it starts to rain, half the peloton doesn’t want to be there! It makes things a little easier…”
Which doesn’t mean that Yates didn’t work hard to win the Montreal Cycling Grand Prix at the end of the afternoon, succeeding Tadej Pogacar, his UAE Team Emirates teammate, who was absent this year.
“It’s not that the conditions are easy, but if you’re ready to go through it and suffer, then it’s not a problem,” smiled the 31-year-old athlete at a press conference. We were ready collectively. We knew what we had to do. With a few laps to go, we started to pick up the pace. I managed to finish the job. It was perfect. »
After the skimming carried out by his teammates, Yates took off on the last climb of the Camillien-Houde route, extricating himself from a group of around twenty runners 10 kilometers from the goal.
Only the Frenchman of Russian origin Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) held on with difficulty, catching up with the leader two kilometers further on. The two future teammates at UAE – and former colleagues at Ineos! – then collaborated to maintain a priority of a dozen seconds over a poorly organized hunting group. The leading duo competed for victory in the sprint in the final 500-meter steep climb on Avenue du Parc.
Second at the exit of the hairpin bend, Yates had no problem getting rid of Sivakov when he decamped at 250 m and overflowed to his right. He took the time to pull up his zipper before crossing the line, arms crossed… as if to thank the heavens for calming down a third of the way into the race.
Most successful season
Fourth in Quebec on Friday, the Spanish puncher Alex Aranburu (Movistar) this time managed to get on the podium (+12 sec), defeating the French champion Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) in the sprint.
Italian champion Simone Velasco (Astana) completed the leading quintet, finishing ahead of Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla), Adam’s twin brother. Simon also went to congratulate him in the interview area after the conclusion of the 221.4 km event.
The British twins made history at the last Tour de France, with Adam getting the better of Simon on the opening stage in the Basque Country. Yellow jersey for four days and third in the final general classification, Adam Yates adds a fifth bouquet to his first year with UAE.
“I think this allows me to equal my most successful season in terms of victories,” noted the new monarch in Montreal. It’s not easy either when you change teams, to be at a super high level from the start. So I’m super happy. »
Without having the track record of Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), the double winner in Montreal who bowed out on Sunday, Yates is starting to be familiar with the Canadian classics. Fourth in the metropolis last year, he finished second in the flood in 2015, an event won by his current teammate Tim Wellens, who retired after three laps on Sunday. This experience served him well.
“It was the same situation in 2015. You don’t have time to play games or bluff. We spoke [avec Sivakov] and we went hard until the finish. I managed to leave him at the front for the last little slope and then tried to surprise him. »
The Vermeesch show
The great Belgian Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Dstny), second in Paris-Roubaix in 2021, spent almost 170 kilometers alone in the lead, widening a lead of almost 5 min 30 s at mid-race.
The Israel-Premier Tech team of Hugo Houle and Guillaume Boivin stayed at the front of the peloton to protect their Canadian leader Michael Woods, who however faltered in the last lap (15e, +55 sec). The two Quebecers dropped out, like 100 of the 160 starters.
The rain stopped after two hours of racing, prompting supporters to occupy almost the entire fence bordering the 1.8 km of Camillien-Houde.
The Lidl-Treck and the Soudal Quick-Step of former double world champion Julian Alaphilippe (15e) then worked together to reach Vermeersch with around fifty kilometers to go.
Patient, the UAE of Yates, the stubborn Polish climber Rafal Majka in the lead, took control to skim what remained of the strength of a peloton reduced to around fifty cyclists.
After short escapes from Arnaud De Lie, crowned in Quebec on Friday, and Michael Matthews, twice winner in Montreal, Adam Yates was ready to emerge, even if he was never sure of success.
“It’s a super tough race with the distance and the meters to climb [près de 5000]. There’s never really a time when you truly feel good. Maybe I can try something, but you don’t really know how other people feel. Even in the last lap, when I attacked, I wasn’t at my best. But the guys did a fantastic job setting the table. I had to try. So I tried it and it worked quite well…”
Adam Yates will not stay long in Montreal, a flight will take him back to Europe in the evening. Before leaving, he expressed the wish to come back for this “super beautiful race, well organized”.
1. Adam Yates (GBR) the 221.4 km in 5:54:02 (average: 37.5 km/h)
2. Pavel Sivakov (FRA)
3. Alex Aranburu (ESP)
4. Valentin Madouas (FRA)
5. Simone Velasco (ITA)
6. Simon Yates (GBR)
7. Ben O’Connor (AUS)
8.ion Izaguirre (ESP)
9. Mattias Skjelmose (DEN)
10. Marc Hirschi (SUI)
15. Michael Woods (CAN)
47. Derek Gee (CAN)