Simon Yates: ‘Growing up I wanted to be an Olympian’

The Brit dreams of racing his first Olympics in Tokyo later this year

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Simon Yates says he dreamed of being an Olympian as a child, as he hopes to race in Tokyo this summer.

The Brit, winner of the Vuelta a España in 2018, is in the running for a spot on the Great Britain team for the road race, but with only four spots available selection will be tough.

But Yates, 27, is building his season around the Olympics, opting to skip the Tour de France because of the tight turnaround between Paris and the road race in Japan.

Mitchelton-Scott rider Yates told Cycling Weekly: “When I grew up, as a kid I want to be an Olympian. I’ve not been to an Olympics yet so that’s very motivating for me.

“I’ve got to make sure I get my place yet. Unfortunately, we’ve only got four spaces. Of Course GB is a very strong nation and we’ve only got four spaces, and one guy who’s going for the time trial so it’s actually only three spaces.

“I’ll need to qualify for my place first and we’ll go from there.”

GB has three Grand Tour winners available along with a host of climbing talent, while Alex Dowsett is the frontrunner for the time trial after his fifth place in the World Championships last year.

On whether he was confident of selection Yates said: “You never know. I'll start racing. I don't know what the other guys' programmes are or if they doing the Tour and if they're going to have that quick change around or if they're going to come to the Giro like me.

“You can list off all the great riders here, whoever's ready. There's three guys there who have won a Grand Tour - Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and me. Adam [Yates], Tao Geoghegan Hart, James Knox, Hugh Carthy, and the list goes on, even Dowsett in there for the TT.

“We have a great selection and only a small amount of places.”

Yates announced his plans for 2020 two days before Christmas, revealing he plans to skip the Tour de France in favour of a return to the Giro d’Italia before focussing on the Olympics.

Last season Yates banked on a general classification bid at the Giro, where he finished eighth, before lining up at the Tour to support his brother, coming away with two stage wins for himself.

>>> Fernando Gaviria targets Classics and marks Milan – San Remo as main goal for 2020 season 

He will open the year at the Tour Down Under, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race an the Herald Sun Tour, before he looks to the Giro in May.

The Olympics pose a dilemma to any gold medal hopefuls as the climbing course suits the GC contenders, but there are only a handful of days between stage 21 of the Tour in Paris and the road race.

Yates said: “I would like to go out early, really just because the jet lag is big thing. Five days isn’t very long to get over that.”

Thank you for reading 20 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