Adam Yates defended his twin bother and Orica-BikeExchange team-mate Simon Yates, who had to miss the Tour de France starting on Saturday at Mont-Saint-Michel due to an asthma medication anti-doping ban.
The 23-year-old Englishman used asthma drug Terbutaline without permission during the Paris-Nice stage race in March. The Australian WorldTour team said that its doctor made an error in not applying for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). With a TUE, a rider may freely use the substance.
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Yates received a four-month ban for the case, which will only allow him to resume racing later in July at the Tour of Poland. The case, however, could affect him for years to come. Team Sky, for instance, would not sign him with its current zero-tolerance policy.
“He’s an innocent guy,” Adam said. “He’s had his career ruined by a simple mistake. I’m pretty devastated by that, but I’ve race without him before and I’m racing without him again, so it doesn’t change much.”
Simon raced the last two editions of the Tour, debuting in his neo-professional year in 2014. Last year, he roomed with Adam in his first Tour de France.
“It was great when he was here last year and it’s a shame he’s not here this year, but that’s it,” Adam added. “It’s a shit situation with him, but what can you do about it? Someone fucked up and he’s had his reputation ruined for the rest of his life.”
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“I’ve trained with him all the time, nothing’s changed,” he added.
“What would you do? What can he do? When something like that happens, you have to get on with it. There’s nothing he did wrong.”
Adam is developing quickly after a debut year that included the overall Tour of Turkey win and a sixth in the Critérium du Dauphiné. Last year, he placed ninth in Tirreno-Adriatico, three times top-ten in Tour stages and won the Clásica San Sebastián one-day race.
“Last year, I wasn’t going super in the Tour because I crashed in the Basque Country [with a broken finger] and it took a lot to get my fitness back.
“This year, it went better. I went to altitude before the Dauphiné for three weeks and then I went again for two weeks afterwards. The preparation has gone better this year than in any other year, I was able to focus just on this race,” he explained.
His team said that it is too early for him to focus on the race overall, that placing 20th or 30th would not change his life, but that winning a stage would. After focusing on the overall classification with Esteban Chaves in the Giro, Orica will race the Tour as it always has, for stages.
“I’m not going to lose time on purpose, but the way the race goes, I could lose time naturally with splits. You never know, if I’m not too far down and I get into a break in the last week, and we gain 20 minutes, I could be up there… but, we’ll see,” he added.
“You see how well Esteban has done. He’s joined the team when I joined. He’s a couple of years older than me, so hopefully in a few years I can do the same, get up there in grand tour and podium in grand tours.
“There are not many people who just target the Tour straight away, a lot of times it’s the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España first. We haven’t discussed it, but next year, I might do the Giro and try to target the GC, or the Vuelta.”