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Adam Yates has insisted that he will still have opportunities to ride for general classification in Grand Tours, having made the switch from Ineos Grenadiers to UAE Team Emirates.
The Briton has joined his new employees on a three-year contract after two seasons with Ineos where he continued to assert his class in one week stage races but failed to challenge for overall honours in either the Vuelta a España or Tour de France.
Now aged 30, the Bury-born rider appreciates that his new team have a raft of GC options, including two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, young Spanish prodigy Juan Ayuso and Portuguese João Almeida.
That, however, does not mean that he will be prevented from trying to win a Grand Tour himself. Asked by a small collection of press at UAE’s December training camp whether the crowded nature of his new team means that his own GC ambitions will have to take a backseat, Yates responded: “I wouldn’t say so.
“We have one big superstar in Tadej, and we have a lot of young guys who have a lot of potential. But you can’t just have one leader all of the time. Who knows if they need me to do something. If someone gets injured then I can step in.
“Just because I’ve changed teams doesn’t mean I’ve gone down a level - it’s still the same as before.
“It’s the same situation as at Ineos: there are a lot of good riders at a high level and we always went to Grand Tours with two options, sometimes three options, and I think that’s the way the sport is going.
“It’s so easy for something to happen, or for someone to have a crash, so it’d be silly these days to invest that much money into riders and not have a second option.
“I’m not really bothered by what [races] they put me in. Obviously I’d like to go to the big races and try and show myself, but we’ve got some big riders here who can win big races so we will see.”
During his two seasons with Ineos, Yates finished fourth at the 2021 Vuelta a España but was never in contention for the win, while at the 2022 Tour de France he overcame illness to ride to a respectable 10th (upgraded to ninth following Nairo Quintana’s expulsion).
Yates has completed all 11 Grand Tours he has started since 2014, and has finished in the top-10 on four occasions; fourth overall, and the young jersey, at the 2016 Tour remains his best result.
“I’m not ashamed at all [about his Grand Tour results],” he added. “When I race, I race 100%, no matter what race it is.
“Ok, maybe it’s not gone 100% perfect for the Grand Tours, but when I am at my best, I am amongst the best. As long as I keep ticking all of the boxes, keep doing what I am doing, then the results will come. Last year I had a lot of bad luck with illness at key moments - I could have done a lot better.”
Despite there being a feeling of never quite kicking on in three week races, Yates has demonstrated his enduring class across shorter stage races, winning the Volta a Catalunya and Deutschland Tour in recent years.
He admits that those week-long races are his forte and thus he will continue to prioritise similar results.
“You like what you’re good at,” he went on. “I am pretty good at one week stuff. That is what I am good at and have been good at in the past.
“A good example is Richie Porte. He’s won almost every race you can [win] on the calendar. Ok, he’s not won a Grand Tour, but you can’t say he wasn’t one of the best stage racers in the world.
“The [UAE Team Emirates] coaches here have different coaching techniques but they said to me, ‘don’t change anything’ [and to] keep doing what I have been doing for the last few years.
“I’m not young anymore, I’m getting older, I’ve been around the block a few times so I guess I know what I am doing to an extent. I just need a nudge here and there to get the best out of me.”
Yates revealed that he had considered staying on Ineos Grenadiers, although it is understood that the British team were not prepared to give Yates guarantee of Grand Tour leadership.
When he began speaking with UAE about a potential move, he was persuaded by how they intended to use him and also the length of the contract.
“We [Ineos and Yates] were talking throughout the year but then when this opportunity came around, I felt like the time was to change,” he added.
“From the moment we started speaking, they had a plan. They already knew what they wanted to do with me to an extent and for me that is the most important thing. Them knowing what they want from me and knowing they trust me and support me - that’s the main thing. We only spoke briefly and within a week of talking we sat down and started talking about a contract.
“I asked if they would agree to three years because at Ineos and my last two years at Mitchelton [Scott] it was always two years. You do your first year and then in February and March you’re already thinking about your contract so I said to the team, ‘listen, let me settle down, let’s work together, come up with a plan, and then make something happen’. From the beginning they trusted me to do that and hopefully it’ll work out.”
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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