Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) sprinted to third place in the season’s last monument and became only the second British rider to enter the podium Il Lombardia after Tom Simpson won the 1965 victory.
“Thirdly, a pretty good result as I ran full throttle since the start of the year in February in the UAE, so to go the whole season with a pretty good consistency, I’m pretty happy with that,” Yates said after the race. “It’s not a win, but at the end of the day I’ve been consistent all year.”
Yates was part of an aggressive Ineos Grenadiers team that started the action on the penultimate long climb of the race. The British rider stayed in the wheels while his teammates softened the opposition, but as Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) accelerated at the next climb, Yates found himself stuck in the hunting group with the rest of the favorites.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this is going to hurt,'” Yates said of the moment Pogačar accelerated away on Passo di Gamba. “I tried to make a move, but we did not get over, so that was it.
“I was already suffering. It was not only the climbs but also the descents. It was a really technical course this year and you always had to be in position to make sure you were not caught and in the end it takes a lot out of you. We came to the climb and everyone suffered quite a lot. I tried to walk across, but eventually the legs were not there. ”
After almost 230 km of running, the elite hunting group could not get organized. At one point, Yates found himself with a hole as he rolled through to take his turn at the front, just as the group behind it came to a standstill. Then he and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) were caught on the powerful Colle Aperto near goal in Bergamo. But all was not lost.
“In the end, it was a bit of luck,” Yates said. “Sometimes you need a little luck and today was the day. I was dropped with Primož on the last climb, but we came back with 400-500 meters to the finish and managed to get a good inlet. It’s great to have a little luck and I’m just happy to end the season well. ”
Yates made the switch from the BikeExchange outfit to the 2021 season and parted ways with the Australian outfit and his twin brother Simon after seven years. Highlights of his 2021 season include second overall on the UAE Tour – where he was beaten by a perennial Pogačar – a stage victory and overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya and fourth at the Vuelta a España. His year ends with fourth and second at the Giro dell’Emilia and Milan-Turin, and finally his historic third place at the ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’.
“I’ve had my ups and downs, like everyone else this year,” he said. “There are definitely things to work on and improve next year, but we will think about it in a few weeks in the low season.”