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Yates rode into the leader’s jersey courtesy of his stage win on stage 3 after victory at Schauinsland. The British climber successfully defended his overall lead on the final stage with a fifth-place finish to edge out Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) for the overall win.
The stage win and overall title put Yates back on track after a difficult season hampered by illness and bad luck and came as a welcome boost with his contract situation for 2023 still unclear.
“Today was a super tough day, but the team rode amazingly. It was a super dangerous break, which we tried to control in the beginning, but everybody wanted to be in the break so we had to pull hard,” Yates said after Sunday’s final stage in Germany.
“The guys did an amazing job all the way to the finish, I didn’t really touch the wind until the final. I couldn’t be more happy or to have asked for any more. It means so much as I had so much bad luck this season, but for the team to ride for me the way they did today – they had so much confidence in me, which really means a lot. I’m super happy, now onto the rest of the season.”
Yates started the spring with firm ambitions centered around the Tour de France. With Egan Bernal set to miss the race due to injury, Yates was handed co-leadership alongside Daniel Martinez for July’s marquee race.
However, after finishing second in the UAE Tour and fourth in Paris-Nice, the British climber started to see his results slip. He was forced to pull out of the Tour de Suisse due to a positive test for COVID-19 and it looked as though his Tour de France was in real jeopardy.
He would make the Ineos Grenadiers’ line-up for the Tour but found himself off the pace in the mountains. Geraint Thomas would eventually secure a podium spot for Ineos with Yates often riding for his Welsh teammate in the mountains. Yates secured 10th overall in Paris, despite his work for Thomas and getting sick again in the second half of the race.
Yates was hoping to use the Tour de France as a chance to secure a new contract with his deal at Ineos Grenadiers set to expire at the end of the season. He had been linked with a move back to Team BikeExchange after two years away, while B&B Hotels-KTM had also been heavily linked with the rider after the French team confirmed an injection of investment for next year.
Yates was tight-lipped over his future when VeloNews asked about his status in Paris but his agent has been working hard to secure the best deal possible with talks between Ineos and BikeExchange stretching into August. It’s understood that Ineos’ first offer was below Yates’ current value.
Ineos Grenadiers has made a number of high-profile signings since the transfer market opened at the start of August but most of the team’s new recruits are young up-and-coming talents. Yates may not be a grand tour winner in the making but he still provides stability and a proven track record when it comes to week-long races.
It’s clear that BikeExchange is no longer an option at this moment given the financial demands Yates’ agent is looking for, and even though the Australian team does have a possible spot left on its 2023 roster the team has already made several signings for next year.
Ineos Grenadiers would not officially comment on Yates’ situation when contacted by VeloNews on Monday morning but it now seems as though staying with the team is still an option.