The British Grand Tour winner came within days of winning the maglia rosa back in 2018, having dominated the final two weeks of the race, before his dramatic collapse on stage 19 to Bardonecchia.
This year Yates is back for revenge once more, after a slightly disappointing return to Italy in 2019, but this year looks to be in great form after a convincing victory in Tirreno-Adriatico.
But Mitchelton-Scott will have to overcome a major hurdle in the shape of Geraint Thomas and his Ineos Grenadiers team.
With three time trials totalling 65km in this year’s Giro, Yates will have to be aggressive in the mountains to distance world class time triallist Geraint Thomas, who was fourth in the Worlds TT last week.
Head sports director at Mitchelton-Scott, Matt White, said: “We’re going up against a world-class time trialler in the leader of Ineos, Geraint Thomas. The rest of our rivals are in a similar bracket to Simon and we will all be looking to limit our losses in those three time trials and take opportunities on the climbs when they are there.
“All of the climbers need to be aggressive, including us. When and where, and from who, will be interesting but we’re going to have to take time.
“The 65km of time trialling is substantial, especially in the modern era where you don’t see that many Grand Tours with this much time trialling, and it has an effect on our tactics.”
Supporting Yates in the mountains will be Jack Haig and Lucas Hamilton, with Hamilton looking good this year after stage victory in Tirreno, while Haig has been an impressive domestique since the season re-started.
The rest of the Mitchelton-Scott squad will be geared to keeping Yates out of trouble on the flats, with Edoardo Affini making his Grand Tour debut, while Cameron Meyer, Damian Howsen, Brent Bookwalter and Michael Hepburn will complete the squad.
Yates said: “Tirreno was a great victory and I’m very proud of what I accomplished there but the big goal has always been the Giro, so I hope I can hold my form from there until the end of the Giro.
“The Giro is a hard and unpredictable race. You need to be ready at any moment to adapt the strategy to prepare for victory. Normally at the Giro the weather is getting better day-by-day as we start in Spring and approach summer, whereas this year will be the complete opposite. I’m expecting some bad weather this year and I’m mentally prepared for that.”
Since winning Tirreno, Yates returned to Andorra to spend time at altitude and be at home in the build-up to the race.
White added: “Regardless of the result in Tirreno, we were always going to come in as one of the favourites. We haven’t hid the fact that Simon is motivated to try to win the Giro, it’s a race we came close to winning in 2018 and I think we’ve continued to learn since then. As a unit, we’re going back knowing what we are capable of – you do learn from your mistakes and your experiences and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since 2018.
“It’s not rocket science, but it’s going to be about consistency over three weeks. It’s the toughest of the three Grand Tours; we have a hard start, a hard finish and a lot of kilometres in between.”
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. 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.
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