By Jonny Long
The early part of the 2020 cycling season has so far been defined by record-breaking rides. On the track, the Danes twice broke the team pursuit world record at the Track World Championships, while the road has also seen a number of riders send previous best times tumbling.
Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) broke the Chalet Reynard climbing record on Mont Ventoux, although some dispute this, while Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) set a new fastest time trial record on the three-year-old course at the Volta ao Algarve on his way to the overall victory.
Then, as the WorldTour got back underway at the UAE Tour, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) surged into the overall lead with victory on stage three, taking the Jebel Hafeet climb record off Movistar's Alejandro Valverde.
Ag2r La Mondiale's Quentin Jauregui had hit out on the climb before Yates demolished the field, saying he had given his all but couldn't compete and the speeds are so high the sport is "becoming Moto GP".
"It's February but it's already going up so fast…" Jauregui told L'Équipe. "It's getting worse and worse, it's becoming Moto GP, on the flat as well as the climbs. I saw the speed when we went past a speed camera, I knew I couldn't climb much faster."
"It went up very, very fast," Groupama-FDJ's David Gaudu added. "Yates is above everyone else, he crushed the climb. There is nothing to say."
Gaudu also raced against Quintana at the Tour de La Provence when the Colombian won the Ventoux stage. He says that while these early season races previously were used as preparation for the bigger prizes to come, this is not the case anymore.
"A week ago at Ventoux, I was not so good, we had taken a little bit of a beating from Nairo Quintana. Today, we take another one from Yates who finished a minute and a half ahead of me. But my sensations were much better. I did not expect such deviations. It is already going very fast, the level is already high. There is no more preparatory race, even on the races that were used for that before, now things go very quickly."
For Yates, he's taking his performances in the Middle East as encouragement for the season ahead, and that he's racing to see where his legs are at as he begins building towards the 2020 Tour de France.
"It is my first race of the season, so it was difficult for me to estimate where I stood compared to the competition," Yates said after his stage three win. "Certainly with today’s heat, it’s difficult to estimate, I think it was 37 to 38 degrees all day. I just wanted to test the legs to see where I am."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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