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Contador and Basso hire Sean Yates as Kometa team goes pro

Sean Yates
Sean Yates to take lead in a coaching role on 2021 Eolo-Kometa team (Image credit: Kometa-Xstra / Fundación Contador)

Former Team Sky Directeur Sean Yates has been enlisted by Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso to take up the lead in a coaching role on the Eolo-Kometa team as they step to the professional ranks. 

Yates worked with both former riders as a directeur at Tinkoff-Saxo back in 2015 and 2016, and will join the squad, which is part of the Contador Foundation, ahead of the 2021 season. 

While seven-time Grand Tour winner Contador runs the foundation as a whole, former Giro d'Italia winner Basso is the sporting manager for the team, currently operating in the third-division Continental ranks as Kometa-Xstra. 

Yates, 60, joins after a short four-month stint at Nippo-Delko-One-Provence, which was his first job in the pro peloton since Tinkoff. 

"I’m very excited about this new adventure. It all happened very quickly. A couple of weeks ago Ivan rang me and asked me what I was up to. I told him I had just left Delko and was thinking about my next steps. Ivan instantly made me a proposal and I accepted. It was too good an opportunity to refuse," Yates said. 

"I have known Ivan since 2004 when he was a rider at CSC and I was a Sports Director there. Since then I have worked with him at Discovery Channel and Tinkoff-Saxo and Tinkoff, and we have always had a good relationship. A few times since the demise of Tinkoff we have talked about possibly working together again, but things haven’t quite come to fruition for various reasons. 

"Now things are really happening and I’m pleased to be working with Ivan, Alberto, and Jesus [Hernández] as I have worked with them all before and I have a very good relationship with all of them. Friendship is always a great addition to a good working environment," said Yates.

The Contador Foundation, a non-profit organisation that aims to promote stroke awareness as well as the use of bicycles and cycling in general, was set up by the former Spanish pro in 2015, and the cycling team was set up following his retirement in 2017. As well as the Continental squad, a junior and under-23 programme has also been run, with Juan Pedro López graduating from all three and now riding in the WorldTour for Trek-Segafredo.

This summer, it was announced that the main team, with new sponsorship from Eolo, are set to become a second-division ProTeam with Italian registration from 2021. The step up will bring a revamped roster and race calendar, with the team able to compete for invitations to the world's biggest races. 

"To shape the team, there are some intense days of work ahead. The team is moving up a level and the range of races in which the riders will compete is much greater. We will be racing in the big races against the best riders. It is without a doubt a big step," said Yates. 

"Obviously at this point in time we can’t be thinking about winning the general classification of a race like the Giro, Vuelta or Tour de France, but we can talk about presenting a good team image, showing great commitment and being as good as we can be. This is initially a three-year project, which allows us to develop in a controlled but progressive way, growing day by day to be a bigger and better team."

Following his 14-year career as a rider, Yates became a directeur sportif, starting with Linda McCartney and later working at iTeamNova, CSC, Discovery Channel and Astana. In 2010, he joined Team Sky for their inaugural season, but despite helping Bradley Wiggins to Tour de France victory, he left at the end of 2012, with he and the team denying reports it was due to the team's ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on doping.

Yates worked for British squad NFTO in 2014 before rejoining the WorldTour in 2015 and 2016 with Tinkoff-Saxo. He then took a three-and-a-half-year break from the pro peloton to focus on his own coaching business. 

"I’m a new face in the team and want to become more familiar with the existing members who I don’t yet know. I'm also going to be introducing new riders to the team to complete our roster for 2021," Yates added. 

"We already have many young riders here, riders for sure who will shine in the future. In 2021 they will have the possibility of gaining experience, but we also need some more experienced riders who will allow us to be at the races with more certainty of our competitiveness. Experience is always important. For many of the youngsters it is going to be a very big step, but for sure it will be very good for them. Another interesting aspect for me is the exciting race programme that is evolving that looks like it could include WorldTour races."