The Team BikeExchange-Jayco leader launched the decisive attack on the final stage and held off Primoz Roglic and Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma to take the win and secure second place overall in the eight-day WorldTour race.
Yates showed top form all week long in France. The British rider finished top-five in the pivotal time trial on day four on his Giant Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike and then emerged as one of the top climbers on the mountain stages. Riding his TCR Advanced SL road bike with a CADEX WheelSystem, he finished third atop the Col de Turini on Stage 7, and then won Sunday’s finale in Nice.
The final stage tested riders with steep climbs and cold, wet weather conditions. Yates proved his perseverance, staying with the leaders throughout the 116km stage that featured five categorized climbs. He then launched the winning move on the final climb, the Col d’Éze.
“At the start of the climb it was [Nairo] Quintana who was making the pace,” said Yates, who wore the Giant Rev Pro helmet for the stage win. “He was really setting a strong tempo and I was only really thinking about the stage win. I wasn’t confident to make an advantage, but if you don’t try you never know, so I tried. There was no real tactic.”
Yates started the day 47 seconds behind race leader Roglic. He gained a 25-second advantage on the climb, but was outnumbered by the two Jumbo-Visma riders on the final descent to the finish.
“It’s always in the back of your mind [winning the overall], but I always knew on the downhill I would lose some time just because I’m not a very big guy and with the two guys working behind it was always going to be a difficult task,” he said. “It was very difficult [with the weather conditions], but I’ve had some experience here in the past with the rain, so I was prepared for it.
It was Yates’s fourth career stage win at Paris-Nice and second podium in the general classification. “Now I’ve had two second places overall,” he said. “Maybe one day I’ll come back and try and win again, but I’m happy with what I’ve done this week.”
The stage win was a boost to Yates’s confidence as he how looks ahead to his main goal for the season, the Giro d’Italia in May.