It’s not the first time this year that the plan went well for Adam Yates. Once UAE Team Emirates took the reins at the front of the race with three laps remaining, it was inevitable to know how the end of the Montreal Cycling Grand Prix would unfold.
The efforts of Rafal Majka and Brandon McNulty burned the peloton to the core and stifled any late attacks before they could fully ignite. On the final climb to the Côte Camillien-Houde, Yates took over, accelerating from the front group at a pace that only Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) could follow, but without being able to take the victory from Yates.
On a similarly gray and wet afternoon in 2015, Yates lost this race in a strikingly similar situation, beaten in a two-way sprint by his future UAE teammate Tim Wellens. Eight years later, Yates would force a different result, as he overwhelmed another future teammate on the Avenue du Parc street.
“We didn’t play any games, there was no time to play,” Yates said upon arriving at the press room in the basement of the nearby Santa Cruz Mission church. “I’ve been in that situation before with my now teammate Tim Wellens in 2015. It was the same then. You really don’t have time to play or bluff. We both went at full speed to the finish line.
I was super fast on the climb and Pavel was still there. He obviously had great legs and good condition, so he was always a threat. I thought I could go a little faster in the sprint, but I’m getting older and I’m not as fast as I used to be. Still, I managed to put him in front in the last kilometer and I wound him up from there, so he was perfect.”
There was no time for the two fugitives to speak during Sunday’s thrilling finale, but one wonders if Sivakov had sought Yates’ advice in recent months before agreeing to join him at UAE Team Emirates next season. The decision to swap Ineos for pastures new has certainly paid off for Yates, who won the Tour de Romandie and placed third overall in the Tour de France in his first season with UAE Team Emirates.
Yates’ two-year stint at Ineos wasn’t a failure (after all, he won the 2021 Volta a Catalunya and placed fourth in that year’s Vuelta a España), but his first campaign with the UAE has been the best of his career. Sunday was his fifth win of the year, equaling his previous best tally, but the quality of those wins and performances are arguably of a different caliber than what has come before.
“It’s not easy when you change teams to be at a super high level from the start, so I’m very happy,” said Yates, who suggested the key difference between this year and previous campaigns was advance planning. “I think when the team sets a plan and when you have something to focus on and really score, then it makes a big difference.
“When the team has a plan and knows what they want from you, it is easier to plan. It’s not just about the race schedule, but also about training: when you’re up to speed, when you’re doing other things. I’m pretty organized when I’m at home, so it was perfect for me that the team already knew what they wanted from me.
“Even before we signed, when we were talking, that was the idea. They were clear about what they wanted from me and so far it’s working pretty well. Now, in October, we will make the plan for next year and we will continue working and trying to win cycling races together.”
Yates’ thoughts have not yet shifted to 2024. After a Tour that gave him a stage win, a spell in yellow and a podium, the 31-year-old impressed at the Vuelta a Burgos, and will now look to carry that form until Il Lombardia next month. where he will line up next to Pogacar.
“I have some Italian races ahead of me so I’m looking forward to them,” Yates said. “It’s been a good season and it’s not over yet, so hopefully I can get one more win and make it my most successful season.”