Cycling: Yates to wear yellow jersey after four-year wait

PRIVAS, France (Reuters) - Adam Yates will reluctantly wear the Tour de France’s yellow jersey on Thursday, four years after he was deprived of the sport’s most treasured possession.

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The Briton, who has largely failed to deliver on the grands tours, was handed the Tour de France’s overall lead on Wednesday after yellow jersey holder Julian Alaphilippe was given a 20-second penalty for illegal feeding.

It is four years since he last featured at the top of the race’s rankings -- albeit briefly.

In 2016, his compatriot Chris Froome, then in yellow, lost over a minute to his main rivals after being left to run up Mont Ventoux when his bike was broken in a pile-up, only for the race jury to re-instate him.

That pushed Yates back down to second again, 47 seconds behind Froome, who went on to win the third of his four Tour de France titles.

Fortune, however, was on Yates’s side on Wednesday when he was called to attend the podium ceremony to receive the yellow jersey just as he was almost on his way back to the hotel after showering.

“I just asked (Julian Alaphilippe) what happened because I only found out two minutes ago what happened,” said Yates, who will be joining Ineos-Grenadiers next year.

“He just told me he took a feed or a bottle in the last 20km. Like I said before, this is not the way you want to take the jersey.”

Asked if he would wear the yellow jersey for Thursday’s sixth stage or refuse to don it given the circumstances, Yates said with a smile: “I’ll wear it otherwise I’ll get a fine.”

“We’ll just have to wear the jersey tomorrow and take it stage by stage,” he added, explaining his goal was still to go for stage wins rather than riding for the general classification.

“I think tomorrow will be a big battle. I was going to try something tomorrow anyway. I’m here for stages more than GC, so will continue like that,” the 28-year-old said.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis