Sean Yates turns to e-bike to keep riding after health scares

The retired Tour de France stage winner says the assistance lets him enjoy riding

Sean Yates now uses a Ribble e-bike to keep up his riding

Sean Yates has taken to riding an e-bike after a number of health scares.

The Brit suffers from AV (Atrioventricular canal defect) that hinders his performance as his heart rate now maxes out at 90 beats per minute, meaning he can no longer ride hard.

So the Tour de France stage winner has opted for some electronic assistance, which he gets from his Ribble Endurance SLe e-road bike.

>>> Gocycle GX fast folding e-bike launched

The 58-year-old told Cycling Weekly during a recent training ride: “Some days I feel better than others, but the fact my heart isn’t working properly means my recovery is worse.

“If I go out for a four-hour ride, as I like riding for longer, then I’m laid up for the next two days.

“Everything is slower, my recovery is slower. It’s a vicious circle. So just having that help not only makes the ride more enjoyable, but consequently it makes recovery easier.”

The Ribble Endurance SLe comes with Spanish ebikemotion system of a motor at the rear hub and battery stored in the downtube

Yates rides the newly launched Ribble e-bike, which the company says is the lightest in the world.

The Endurance SLe, designed with race geometry and Spanish ebikemotion system of a motor at the rear hub and battery stored in the downtube, weights just 11kg.

Yates retired in 1996, having won a time trial at the 1988 Tour de France and stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Paris-Nice and the Vuelta a España during his career.

He then turned to team management, and joined Team Sky in 2009 as a sports director before leaving in 2012.

After retiring from the peloton he continued to compete at a high level, competing in time trials across Britain.

>>> Best electric bike deals 2019: Big discounts on boosted bikes

Yates believes the years of intense training and riding have caused his health problems.

He said: “The fact I rode for 30 years, and much of it flat out – your heart gets bigger and my heart one of the chambers has dilated, and the valves aren’t working properly.

“Under normal circumstances, when a pro packs up they just ride every now and again, but I just kept going until I couldn’t go anymore.

“But I still want to keep going, I still want to ride my bike.”

>>> How they used to train: How Sean Yates lost weight and re-booted his career

His health issues prevent him from riding at the level he would like, which is where the electronic assistance comes in handy.

Yates has taken up a role as the ambassador for Ribble’s e-road bike, and will be seen riding the machine near Benicassim in Spain and across Europe in 2019.

He said: “When you’re healthy and you work hard you push yourself and it’s a satisfying feeling.

“This is like you’re trying to ride and you’ve got a bar across your chest.

“I can produce x amount of watts, so if I’ve got just a little bit of assistance it can make it enjoyable.

“I wouldn’t change anything in terms of what I’ve done, but it’s obvious I’ve pushed myself so much over the years my heart has said b***ocks to it.”

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.