What does Adam Yates attribute his impressive early season form to? New team, new ideas, in his supposed peak of his career at 28? The truth is none of that.
Instead, the winner of stage three of the Volta a Catalunya is still the same bike rider he always has been, and the fact that he’s now racing in Ineos Grenadiers colours and not BikeExchange is irrelevant.
“I was looking pretty good last year too. Nothing’s changed,” he said at the top of Vallter 2000, the second time in two successive editions he was won at the small ski resort.
“I am just doing my thing and it doesn’t really matter what team. It’s a great environment and it’s an environment that helps you win bike races but at the end of the day I am still the same guy and I want to keep the ball rolling.”
It mirrors what he told Cycling Weekly at the start of the day when asked if life inside the British super-team is different on the inside from what it appears from the outside.
“It’s just another team,” he dead-panned. “Every team can be a little bit different, but in the end it’s all the same – everyone’s trying to win bike races.
“I’ll keep working like I said and hopefully I can try and win a bike race.
“Everything’s good. If you’ve got nothing to say, then it’s usually really good and you’re not complaining. I’ve got nothing to say. It’s really good.
“Everything is really organised, I’ve fitted in well. I’m just trying to stay focused, keep working hard and it’s working well on the bike so far so I’ll keep doing that.”
Neither he or his twin brother Simon can be relied on for headline quotes – they let their bikes do the talking.
And right now, his bike is screaming loudly: second at the UAE Tour, seventh in this race’s time trial, and now a victory.
“I just like winning bike races. It’s good fun,” he chuckled. “I train hard and work hard and it’s good when you win.
“At the beginning of the day we had options and we used them at the bottom. I felt the moment and I just went for it. It’s a good job I did.
“It feels good [to get his first win for Ineos] I came close in UAE and I would have been in Paris-Nice but I messed my face up pretty bad so we decided to take a bit more of a rest, recover fully and come here with good ambitions.
“The condition and the form is still there, I hope I showed that. I am just really happy to win.”
Leading the GC by 45 seconds from his team-mate Richie Porte, with Geraint Thomas fourth a further eight seconds back, Ineos are in pole position to win the Catalan race, if they can overcome stage four’s shark-tooth profile.
“We all did a good TT so it’s about playing the cards and being smart about what we do,” he said.
“We go into tomorrow which is much harder than today. There’s a couple of big climbs, not just one big one at the end.
“There are three big bergs tomorrow. It’s pretty close to where I live so it’s convenient and I managed to do the recon the other week so we’ll see.”
His victory in the Pyrenees puts him alongside Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar as the standout GC riders of the early season.
Yates, however, will not be taking aim at a Grand Tour until late summer’s Vuelta a España, instead targeting a number of shorter races, with the next set to be the Tour of the Basque Country.
He revealed: “When the team was asking me what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to race a lot in the beginning. It’s a lot of racing back-to-back-to-back and it’s the kind of style that suits me.
“I did it before in 2019 and it went really well so I wanted to do the same thing and try get some wins.
“We have a lot of big riders and leaders in this team and it’s not so easy to be number one, but so far so good.”