Bury cyclist Simon Yates is racing to the Tour de France after a last-minute change to help ease the pressure on team-mate Esteban Chaves, who is recovering from a knee injury. He was due to attend the Giro d’Italia, May 5 to 28, with his twin brother Adam.
Yates, 24, will race his third Tour and aim for the white jersey. Adam, who already won the GP Larciano and placed four in the Volta a Catalunya this spring, will have sole leadership fighting for the pink jersey in the Giro.
“The Tour de France is the biggest race of the year and we have been able to come up with a plan that will benefit our young GC riders, and the team ambitions for the season,” said sports director Matt White.
“Simon will be given the opportunity to line up in his third Tour de France and the pressure on Esteban will be eased a bit as he prepares for his debut. Adam will continue in his preparations for the Giro in a few weeks’ time.”
Chaves last year placed second overall in the Giro d’Italia and third in the Vuelta a España. He will start in his first Tour de France on July 1, but with some doubts after knee pains forced him to cancel racing plans.
Chaves placed second in the Tour Down Under and ninth in the Sun Tour, but problems forced him to miss the Colombian nationals, País Vasco and other races while his Tour rivals raced towards July.
“We are confident that Esteban has made a full recovery from his knee injury and is now back into his Tour de France preparation,” White added.
“What we don’t know at the moment is how that time off and lack of racing will affect his performance over the three weeks.”
Adam Yates has the green light to lead Orica in the Giro with the schedule change. The 24-old last year placed fourth overall in the Tour and won the white jersey.
“It’s a new race for me after doing the Tour for two years now. It’s a new challenge,” he told Cycling Weekly in March
“It’s just a bit more unpredictable. There are always the top guys, then you have these climbers or breakaway guys…who want to get up there and cause some carnage. I reckon that kind of racing will suit me more, but we’ll have to wait and find out.”
Simon Yates, after sitting out the Tour last year for an asthma medication anti-doping violation, placed sixth overall and won a stage in the Vuelta a España. This spring, he already won a stage in Paris-Nice and the GP Miguel Indurain.
“The new programme will give Simon and Adam both opportunities to look at white jerseys this year,” White added. “That is something we will certainly be aiming for as we ride for the best general classification results possible for our young climbers.”