Yates tested positive for asthma drug Terbutaline at Paris-Nice in March. His Orica-BikeExchange team immediately took responsibility for it, saying that an administrative error meant that they had failed to file the correct therapeutic use exemption (TUE) certificate for the drug.
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The UCI took this into account, and handed Yates a reduced four-month ban. It meant that Yates missed the Tour de France, but could start the Tour of Poland – and he heads up Orica-BikeExchange’s roster for the seven-stage event.
Also returning to racing is former British national champion Peter Kennaugh (Sky) who has endured a lay-off after breaking his collarbone in the Tour of California in May.
Kennaugh is part of Team Sky’s eight-man squad that firmly has its sights set on a win. Polish riders Michal Kwiatkowski and Michal Golas will be keen to make an impressive on their home nation’s big race, and Italian sprinter Elia Viviani will be a front runner for the race’s sprint stages.
Viviani will come up against formidable Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) and Australian powerhouse Caleb Ewan (Orica-BikeExchange) in the bunch gallops.
Watch: Men’s 2016 WorldTour contenders
After the opening five stages offering a mix of flat and hilly terrain, the race will be settled on the final two stages. Stage six is a vicious series of hills over five laps of a punishing circuit that will see the peloton whittled down. Then the final, flat 25km time trial will settle to the top order of the general classification.
Last year’s overall winner Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) does not return to defend his title, as he is supporting Nairo Quintana at the Tour de France. It leaves the way clear for a new name to be added to the list of Tour of Poland winners.
Second last year, Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal) will be a name to watch in the GC, as will last year’s third-placed rider Ben Hermans (BMC). Yates should also be added to the list of overall hopefuls on a parcours that suits Classics specialists as much as it does climbers.
Yates and Kennaugh join four other British riders, including national time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) who will be a rider to watch in the race’s time trial.
British Pro Continental team One Pro Cycling starts its first ever WorldTour race, and fields British riders Yanto Barker, Chris Opie and Peter Williams. Also in One Pro’s line-up is Marcin Bialoblocki, who caused a major upset in last year’s race by winning the time trial stage riding for the composite Polish national team.
Tour of Poland 2016 stages
Stage 1, Tuesday July 12, Radzymin to Warsaw, 135km
Stage 2, Wednesday July 13, Tarnowskie Góry to Katowice, 153km
Stage 3, Thursday July 14, Zawiercie to Nowy Sacz, 240km
Stage 4, Friday July 15, Nowy Sacz to Rzeszów, 218km
Stage 5, Saturday July 16, Wieliczka to Zakopane, 225km
Stage 6, Sunday July 17, Bukovina Resort to Bukowina Tatrzanska, 194km
Stage 7, Monday July 18, Kraków to Kraków, 25km ITT