World points champion Simon Yates continued his impressive start to the season with third place at the second round of the U23 Nations Cup, the Côte Picarde, in France on Wednesday.
After finishing 20th at last weekend’s U23 Tour of Flanders, Yates forced the selection on the penultimate climb of this week’s race, breaking clear before being joined by a group of four riders including eventual race winner, Australia’s Caleb Ewan.
Ewan, a first year U23 with a mean sprint who many are already tipping for great things, may have beaten Yates but his the U23 manager Keith Lambert was impressed with the result and the way the six man Great Britain team rode.
“It was full on right from the start. Jon Dibben got in the first move, but then another 20 went and they [the GB team] missed it,” he said. “The lads took the call to chase and they rectified their mistake.”
George Atkins, Joe Kelly and Owain Doull led the pursuit before Dibben got into his second unsuccessful move. With the bunch back together again and his teammates fatigued from the chase, Yates decided to launch his attack.
“It was a case of not attacking on the climb if his teammates were there, but if they were all spent anyway then he had to go all the way from the bottom because he needed to splinter the race.” Lambert explained.
“Caleb Ewan is so fast; he [Yates] knew that and he carried him to the finish but sometimes that happens.”
Yates and the Academy team will next line up at the third round of the Nations Cup this Saturday, the ZLM Tour in the Netherlands. However the fourth event on the U23 calendar, the Toscana-Terra di Ciclismo five-day stage race, has been postponed indefinitely following financial and political difficulties in Italy.