After a hugely impressive performance at the Giro d’Italia in May where Simon Yates took home three stage wins whilst holding the maglia rosa for 13 days before a late collapse, his twin brother, Adam is looking to pick up where he left off and lead an all-out assault for a podium place in what promises to be one of the most closely fought Tours de France in years.
With Chris Froome’s (Team Sky) salbutamol case dropped by the UCI, the four-time winner will be at the start in the coastal region of Vendée this Saturday despite the attempt by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) to ban him from signing in earlier this week. And with the likes of Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) all following, Yates will be in esteemed company.
Yates missed the Tour last year to concentrate on the Vuelta a España and having ridden the Giro, but his previous showing at the Tour shows he is well capable of mixing it with the top riders, just like his brother did at the Giro earlier this year.
In 2016 not only did Adam win the best young rider’s jersey he also finished fourth and that was with a team who were splitting resources for a GC tilt while also being in the hunt for stages victories. But this year team DS Matt White has opted for a squad which is purposely built for Yates to enjoy success in France.
Leaving highly rated sprinter, Caleb Ewan at home means Yates will have Mikel Nieve, Daryl Impey, Luke Durbridge, Mathew Hayman, Michael Hepburn, Damien Howson and Jack Bauer for support. An interesting sub-plot will be to see whether the 25-year-old can handle the pressure of leading a team as it’s unknown territory.
Simon’s Giro exploits have laid down a marker
Simon’s performances at the Giro have set the tone for Mitchelton-Scott’s upcoming Grand Tour’s. If Simon hadn’t of had that late collapse on stage 19, where Froome soloed to victory over the Colle delle Finestre, there’s every chance he would have taken home the pink jersey.
The career trajectory of these talented twins is only going one way, and that’s upwards. It seems whatever one twin can do – the other can replicate it or even better, beat it.
Adam will want to continue that upward family trajectory this summer and despite sustaining a fractured pelvis at the Volta a Catalunya in March, he hasn’t showed any side-effect which makes you think that anything other than a top-10 finish would not be achievable.
At the Critérium du Dauphiné Yates took a stage victory at Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc before finishing second behind winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), having finished fifth in the Tour of California the month before.
The form is there and having seen his brother Simon produce the goods at the Giro, you just get the feeling a motivated and fit Adam could cause havoc in some of the big mountain stages at this year’s Tour.
Aggressive racing in the mountains holds the key for Yates but frailties in time trialling still a concern
Yates’s strengths lie in his climbing abilities coupled with an aggressive streak which make him a fearsome adversary in the mountains.
The Tour boasts six tough mountain stages on some new and classic French terrain. which includes what promises to be an all-out racing spectacle on stage 17’s 65km route from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan, where we could see the destination of the yellow jersey decided.
Yates will do well in thosee mountain stages, but where he could lose time is in his time trialling. It’s an area for concern and although the Briton has been working hard on that discipline, the Tour boasts two of the best time triallists around in the shape of Froome and Dumoulin. And with an individual time trial coming on stage 20, Yates will not want to undo any potential good-work from the mountains with a poor performance.
At 25, Yates has everything in place to become a future Grand Tour winner whether that will be at this Tour remains to be seen. But in the here and now, Yates is more than capable of improving on his fourth place finish in 2016. He’s fit and looks to have got over his earlier season injury.
He has the added bonus of a team dedicated to ensuring he finishes as highest up on the GC as possible and with Simon having performed the way he did at the Giro, you feel Adam will just have to replicate that or even better his brother’s performance.