By Gregor Brown
Adam and Simon Yates face a crucial fortnight in their fledgling pro careers after team Orica-GreenEDGE admitted it will use Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice to gauge their progress as major race winners of the future.
Adam Yates will aim for a top ten overall among the grand tour stars in Tirreno-Adriatico, while twin brother Simon starts in Paris with similar aims. Both are preparing to race the Tour de France in July.
"Tirreno is a very classy field and, obviously, we have realistic ideas, but I think it's a good test for Adam," Orica-GreenEDGE Sports Director Matt White told Cycling Weekly.
"Adam's definitely our leader. There's a bit of pressure on him, but we are not going in with a realistic chance of winning with all the Tour de France contenders: Froome, Nibali, Contador and Quintana."
Tirreno-Adriatico starts on Wednesday with a team time trial in the Tuscan seaside town of Lido di Camaiore. It continues for six days to the east side of Italy, including one summit finish stage at Terminillo and a difficult mid-mountain day.
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"The race is bookended by time trials. We can give him a head start in the first stage, but he will realistically lose some time in the last stage because he's not a tester,” White added. “After stage one, we will support him, but it's up to him to see what he can do in the week."
The 22-year-olds are only starting their second season but, based on 2014, anything is possible. Adam Yates won the Tour of Turkey, placed sixth overall against the Tour de France favourites in the Critérium du Dauphiné and won the GP Industria & Artigianato.
White continued: "Last year, we saw some real flashes of brilliance from the brothers. They put a lot of pressure on themselves, they are driven, but when you look at what Adam did...
"There are races where we are going to win and others where we are going to continue their development. A race like Tirreno for Adam, and Paris-Nice for Simon... They have less pressure, we are not the favourites, and they can test themselves against the best guys in the world. In the Tour of Turkey, for example, Adam will go back to win."
White went with the twins and other Orica cyclists to a high-altitude training camp in Crystal Springs, South Africa, in February. They both returned and began their 2015 seasons over the weekend in French one-day races Classic Sud Ardèche and La Drome Classic.
He explained that he expects them to be at their best later in March and April. They both race through the end of April – Adam in the Tour of Turkey and Simon in Liège-Bastogne-Liège – before taking a break and if everything goes to plan, returning for the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France.
This next week's races, especially for Adam against the top grand tour stars in Italy, will help team Orica decide how two help the twins further develop.
"We worked hard in South Africa and over the winter. Whether Adam's ready to have top result straight away or if we have to wait a couple of weeks, we'll have to see," White said.
"The more you race with them, the better you can learn from them and gauge what work we need to do to get them to that level that we want them to be at in a couple of years."
Ahead of Tirreno, Adam will race the Strade Bianche one-day race on Saturday in Siena.
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