For the first time in their professional careers, Simon and Adam Yates will compete against each other after the former brother’s move to Ineos Grenadiers.
The pair previously raced together on Mitchelton-Scott and signed for the Australian team in 2014, but the pair were out of contract over the winter. While Simon re-signed with Gerry Ryan’s team, now Team BikeExchange, Adam moved to Ineos on a two-year deal after Dave Brailsford convinced him of the British team's ambition.
“It’s just a new challenge really, I spoke to Dave Brailsford. He was telling me about the vision. It was pretty ambitious. He spoke to me and that was it, a pretty straightforward decision,” Adam Yates told Cyclingnews and PA during a call on Saturday.
It’s unclear when the two brothers will race against each other, with Simon Yates likely to head to either the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France and Adam targeting the overall at the Vuelta a España.
“It’ll be funny,” Adam said when asked what it would be like to race against his twin.
“If he starts attacking I’ll just laugh at him, but it is what it is. We’re both professionals and we both want to win. It’s not like it’s going to cause any issues. May the best man win.”
The move to Ineos arguably provides Yates with bolstered team support but it could also limit his options too. At Mitchelton he and his brother could essentially split their Grand Tour ambitions while also picking their one-day targets. They deserved leadership roles due to their race records, but Ineos have a much deeper squad and recruited heavily in the winter with Tom Pidcock, Richie Porte, and Laurens de Plus all joining.
“I don’t think it matters,” Yates said when asked whether the team’s depth at Ineos Grenadiers could alter his role.
“As long as the team wins that’s all that matters at the end of the day. At Mitchelton I had a really good time, all the guys were really nice, all the staff were really nice and it was a big family. I enjoyed racing there but I don’t see why it’s different when I come here.
“There’s not loads of differences [between the two teams – ed] to be honest. All the teams are quite professional. Ineos are very well organised and there are lots of staff, lots of people running around but if it makes your life easier I’m all for it.
“The move was all pretty straightforward," Yates added. "I spoke with Dave quite a bit and he was really excited for me to join the team. They have their ideas and I have mine and we’ll come together and try to win bike races. It’s exciting. I was in the same team for seven years so it’s good to change and here we are.”
Yates will make his Ineos Grenadiers debut on Sunday as he looks to defend his title in the UAE Tour. The British rider won the race ahead of Tadej Pogačar, despite the event ending early due to an outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus. He will aim to repeat the overall win but he faces tough opposition from the likes of Pogačar once more, while a 13-kilometre time trial could tip the balance away from the defending champion.
“I’m feeling pretty good. Obviously it’s the first race of the season so you never really know how the legs are going in racing. You can do the training but racing is a different ball game, but in general I’m feeling pretty good and excited to get started and get into it," Yates said.
"Last year I was flying so it’s pretty hard to get back to that level, but I feel good. This year we’ve obviously got the TT so that makes it a little bit harder but we’ll get into it and see where the condition is.”
After the UAE Tour, the spring will see Yates target a number of weeklong stage races and then the Ardennes Classics. The Vuelta A España and the Olympic Games also feature highly on his ambitions for the season.
“New team, new equipment, new bike, new everything. It’s completely different. I could go to the Giro and maybe do something but if you haven’t ironed out all the niggles...even meeting all the riders and staff. Because of Covid I might not even meet some of the people until the end of the year, so it made sense for me. I’m still racing quite a bit at the start of the year but to have that big goal at the end of the year I think works well. There are lots of riders on the team who can win big races, we’re not short on riders who can win the Grand Tours," Yates added.
“It’s a long, long way now but I think for me just having that big focus at the end of the year… for me, for the last couple of years I’ve always had a massive focus at the start of the year and then it’s trying to hold that form all the way into the Tour and the last couple of years that’s maybe not gone to play so maybe having a break, freshen up and then come in hot at the end of the year."
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