Simon Yates is not one to crack jokes in press conferences, but even the Giro d’Italia stage 11 winner could not avoid a smile when faced with a quote from Sir Alex Ferguson, legendary trainer of the Manchester United football club, and asked if it could be applied to him.
As a United fan, Yates had probably heard Ferguson’s quote that “when a player is at his peak, he feels as though he can climb Everest in his slippers” before. But he probably didn’t expect a journalist to ask him, after leading the Giro d’Italia for six days and winning his second stage, if his morale was so good he felt like one of Ferguson’s top players, ready to tackle the world’s highest peak.
Yates responded with his typical caution, saying that, “I’m happy with how I’m going and I’m relaxed. But I understand how difficult this is going to be, I know that it’s going to be hard all the way, I’m praying don’t have a bad day or bad luck.
“You saw what happened with Esteban [Chaves, Mitchelton-Scott team-mate, who lost 25 minutes on Tuesday – Ed.] Your race is over.”
‘So is Zoncolan your Everest?’ the journalist persisted. “No, it’s the [stage 16] TT. The time trial – I’m afraid of it, let’s not dodge that question,” Yates replied. “I could lose a lot of time.”
For now Yates remains on the rise in this year’s Giro d’Italia, with a stunning late attack on stage 11 netting the race leader even more of an advantage over his GC rivals as well as his second stage victory in this year’s race.
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