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As Simon Yates sealed overall victory at the Tour of the Alps on Friday, the BikeExchange leader said that his aim is now firmly on May’s Giro d’Italia, where he’ll bid for his second career Grand Tour victory.

Having finished safely in the peloton on the final stage to Riva del Garda, 40 seconds behind stage winner Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), the Briton looks to have hit top form ahead of his first major goal of the season, the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Turin on May 8.

During the five-day race, which took in the Austrian region of Tyrol and the Italian province of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Yates took control on the uphill finish of stage 2 in Feichten im Kaunertal and only confirmed his dominance on the penultimate mountain stage to Pieeve di Bono.

In the end, he beat Bahrain Victorious rider Pello Bilbao into second place by 58 seconds, while Astana-Premier Tech’s Aleksandr Vlasov, who he’ll face again at the Giro, was third, 1:06 down.

After the finish of the race ­– his second Italian stage race win after last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico – he said that now his aim will switch to the Giro and try to hold his shape and avoid injury over the coming two weeks.

“I feel good, now we just need to look after ourselves, try not to get sick, try not to get injured and try to arrive to the Giro d’Italia in the best possible shape,” he said.

“I am really happy. This was a fantastic result. The guys did an amazing job, not just today, but all week and we really gelled as a team. They controlled at the start then rode all day and in the final they were fantastic again.”

Yates will be joined by several of his Tour of the Alps teammates at the Giro, with Tanel Kangert, Mikel Nieve, Callum Scotson, Cameron Meyer and Nick Schultz all set to line up in Turin. The resurgent Esteban Chaves, who will start Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, is also set to form part of the Australian team in Italy.

In heading to the Giro, Yates will seek to achieve the ever-rarer feat of winning the Tour of the Alps (or the Giro del Trentino as it was formerly known) and going on to triumph at the Italian Grand Tour. Of the current peloton, only Vincenzo Nibali has done the double, back in 2013, while Damiano Cunego (2004), Gilberto Simoni (2003) and Gianni Bugno (1990) are the three previous men to win both.

Yates, who was near untouchable in the mountains this week, soloing to victory from 22 seconds on stage 2 and dispatching with everyone but Vlasov on the tough Castel Condino climb on stage 4. After the finish of stage 5, he batted away a question about peaking too early for the Giro.

“It’s too late to change anything now, so I’ll just go with it,” he said, before giving his opinion on his chief rivals next month – the likes of Egan Bernal, Mikel Landa, and Remco Evenepoel – none of whom were racing this week.

“Every race is different, and people are coming in at different times and preparations. It’s always difficult to say, but I’m happy with my condition.”

Team BikeExchange Directeur Sportif Matt White added to Yate’s good cheer after the race, saying that he and the team were ready to take on the Giro, a race the 28-year-old came closest to victory back in 2018 as he won three stages and held the race lead before a collapse on the Colle delle Finestre.

“In the end it was a very successful week for the team,” White said. “We came here with the primary goal to go through the process to get ready as a team for our major goal of the Giro d’Italia next month and I think we ticked a lot of boxes.

“Obviously winning the race was the objective but also to bring this group of riders together and it worked very well. It gives us great confidence going into the Giro and we have some fresh faces and old hands coming in.

“For those guys to have worked together in this environment this week in Italy with our leader and with the success we have had, it has been a great boost for us.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: Daniel Ostanek
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