Cycling Weekly is counting down the top 30 British Riders of the Year thoughout December.
NUMBER 4: SIMON YATES
World points champion
There was a lot of excitement and anticipation when the Tour of Britain organisers announced that the 10th edition of the race would include its first uphill finish. The climb to Haytor in Devon was a perfect Classic-esque culmination to a glorious stage, and all day there had been speculation about who would win there. Dan Martin of Garmin was the favourite, closely followed by the Colombian Nairo Quintana, not least because they had been so active on the climbs throughout the week.
But when the race neared the line, it was neither of these Tour de France stage winners who emerged at the front of the small group of survivors. Instead, it was a figure in a Great Britain jersey who calculated his finish with the steely-eyed precision of a veteran.
Simon Yates, the 21 year old from Bury, landed the biggest road race win of his career and did enough to secure third place on the overall podium behind Bradley Wiggins and Martin Elmiger. There’d already been rumours that the Yates brothers were going to join Orica-GreenEdge and after this stage victory the news was confirmed.
A stage win at the Tour of Britain wasn’t the biggest moment of Yates’s year, however. That came in Minsk, Belarus, back in the spring when he clinched the points race at the World Champs with a methodical performance Great Britain coach Chris Newton would have been proud of.
Instead of haring off looking for points early on in the race, he waited until the inevitable attacks started and then chose the one to go with, gaining a lap with a handful of other riders. Then he got to work in the sprints, scoring in four of the last five before sealing the rainbow jersey with a sprint to the line.
As Chris Boardman said at the time, it was a clever, mature piece of riding in which Yates identified his goal and plotted his way towards it, rather than allowing himself to panic when other riders played their cards.
His road racing season was a model of consistency as he showed himself to be a stage-hunting outsider for the overall classifications at a number of top amateur and under-23 stage races.
But it was his consistently impressive performance at the Tour de l’Avenir in August that caught the eye. He won back-to-back stages, at Morzine and Chatel, while his brother Adam rode to second place overall.
Then came the Tour of Britain, where he showed the same measured ability as in the World Championship points race by staying in contention and coming good at Haytor.
He finished third overall, 1-03 behind the winner Wiggins and 37 seconds behind Elmiger. Yates may have reflected on the 10-mile time trial stage at Knowsley Park, where he lost 1-33 to Wiggins and 40 seconds to Elmiger. But for these losses, he might have been racing for the overall victory at Haytor.
It has been a sensational season for him, with a world title, two stage wins in one of the most prestigious races for young riders, and a coveted place on the podium at his national tour.
British Riders of the Year 2013: Related links