SIMON Yates showed “really good signs” according to his team boss after his first major outing of the season.

The Bury cycling star finished 10th overall after the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico as his preparations for the Giro d’Italia in May stepped up a notch.

Hopes had been high he could make it back-to-back wins in the event but after losing time early in the race when suffering from cramp, Yates finished nearly eight minutes down on winner Tadej Pogacar.

It was a battle with last year’s Tour de France winner Pogacar in stage four that was the highlight of his week and Team BikeExchange head sport director Matt White was keen to look to the positives in what was just Yates’ second race of 2021.

“I think overall this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico was a solid start for our Giro d’Italia preparations,” he said.

“A big chunk of this team were starting their preparations for the Giro and Simon showed some really good signs, especially on the Queen stage.

"I think that was a great ride there behind Pogacar.”

Stage two’s struggles would ultimately rule Yates out of contention in the general classification running.

Yates animated in the final 35 kilometres of the race, as an early breakaway of six riders was caught on the penultimate climb.

A dangerous move of three then clipped off the front, with Yates alert and quickly in hot pursuit of the trio.

The Bury rider jumped across, before escaping in a select group of four over the top of the climb. The quartet hovered around 30seconds in front of the bunch until the final two kilometres of the 202km stage.

As the bunch drew closer, Yates eased up with two kilometres to go, just before the remaining leaders were swallowed up by the chasing pack.

"He just had some cramps," White said. "He had a big off last weekend at Strade Bianche.

"He's gone deep today, and he couldn't hold the group because of the cramp. But the bigger picture is the Giro, where we're going (there) to win."

The 28-year-old rebounded impressively on stage four though, chasing down a late attack by Pogacar before having to settle for a bittersweet second place.

Yates began clawing his way up to Pogacar in what was a nail-biting finale but was caught short, with the line coming too soon.

The action packed final 10 kilometres saw multiple general classification favourites launching attacks one after the other but Yates bided his time in the group before picking his moment to go in pursuit of the sole leader.

In the end, Pogacar proved to be the strongest and smartest on the day, successfully holding off the chase to take the stage honours on his way to overall victory.

“I tried to play the game,” Yates said after the stage.

“I tried to get other GC guys to bring back any gaps, bring back any guys that were trying to get away and in the end the mistake was trying to play the game for too long as Pogacar was gone.

“I tried to go across and close the gap a little bit, but he was already long gone, I didn’t really get any time on him after the initial acceleration.

"It was tough to win the stage, but the sensations are good, so I am feeling quite happy.“