Yates finished fourth in the hilly Canadian circuit race, just behind winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Andrea Bagioli (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl). He was the most aggressive rider on the final 12.2km lap, attacking hard on the first steep climb through the Parc du Mont-Real and again in the final kilometres to try to distance the faster finishers.
“Like we all saw, I was never going to win the sprint, so I tried to go on the climb,” Yates said openly.
“The hardest one, the longest one is the furthest from the finish, so it was always going to be tricky. I tried again on the little kicker climb nearer the finish but everyone had good legs there too. I did everything I could but some faster guys beat me.”
The 30-year-old Ineos Grenadiers rider has endured a testing season, with illness, a nasty bout of COVID-19 just before the Tour de France and even illness during the race testing his mental fortitude and physical ability.
“I was sick for a long time, it almost feels like the whole season,” Yates said before his usual pragmatism kicked in.
“Then I got COVID-19 at the Tour de Suisse and then got a different illness in the Tour. That was all really bad luck but that’s life and you have to get on with it. Now I’m not sick and the results are there and I’m up there fighting for the win. The condition is good. Now I just hope to take it back to Europe, to keep racing and to keep trying to win.”
While the likes of Pogačar, Van Aert and others travelled on to Australia, Yates, along with most of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Montréal peloton, is due to return to Europe on Tuesday morning for the final races of the 2022 season.
Ineos Grenadiers are not fighting WorldTour relegation but are keen to win as much as possible in an attempt to pass Jumbo-Visma in the 2022 UCI team ranking.
Yates finished fourth overall in the 2021 Vuelta a España and then fourth in the Giro dell’Emilia, second at Milan-Turin and third at Il Lombardia. He is hoping for a similar if not better end of season run in the next few weeks.
“I’ll do all the hilly ones and then finish my season with Il Lombardia,” Yates said.
“Unfortunately there are not too many races that suit me. They moved Milan-Turin to the spring and made it flat, so there’s the Giro dell’Emilia and Il Lombardia.”
Yates’ biggest success of the final weeks of the season could be a new contract for 2023 that allows him to stay ambitious after recently turning 30. His two-year contract with Ineos Grenadiers ends this year and the British super team has been hesitant about confirming Yates’ place in the team for 2023.
He is looking for a leadership role in WorldTour stage races and perhaps even a Grand Tour but Ineos Grenadiers are undergoing a significant shake-up, with a new generation of talented young riders given priority.
Yates won the 2021 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and the more recent Deutschland Tour but his difficult 2022 season has seen him slip down the pecking order within the team. He has rightly defended his ability and has been linked to a return to BikeExchange-Jayco alongside his brother Simon.
Yates seemed happy as he talked after the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal but remained tight-lipped about his future.
“Everything will be revealed soon,” was all he would say with a smile, refusing to even acknowledge if he would be happy to stay at Ineos Grenadiers.