Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) recently confirmed that he'll target the Giro d'Italia and Tokyo Olympics in 2020 after kicking off his season at a trio of Australian races, including the Tour Down Under.
After the announcement, Cyclingnews talked to the 27-year-old Briton about his plans for next season, including the reasons for shaking up his early season and for choosing the Giro over the Tour, as well as rating his chances of a medal in next summer's road race Tokyo.
Cyclingnews: How is your training for next season going?
Simon Yates: I've been training for a long time now. I stopped my season early this year, had a good break and have been training well since that. I've just come back from Gran Canaria and I'll go to Australia in January to prepare before the racing starts.
I'm looking forward to that. The Tour Down Under is our home race really. All the guys will be really motivated, and I enjoy that atmosphere when we race. I think it's important [to get that base] – last time I went to Australia was in 2013 and I had a really good year that year. Hopefully I'll have that same situation again.
CN: Did you feel like it was a necessary break?
SY: I think so. At that point I was tired having done two Grand Tours. There weren't many races left anyway – I could've drawn out the season and only raced twice or whatever. It just felt a bit unnecessary really. I'd already done what I needed to so it all just kind of fell into place.
CN: How do you rate your 2019 campaign?
SY: It was a bit hit and miss, really. I had some good wins. but I also missed my main target which was the Giro d'Italia. That's just how it goes really. Not much else to say. I tried to arrive there in great form, and I thought I did but obviously that wasn't good enough. I'll try again next year, and we'll go from there.
CN: Why did you choose the Giro over the Tour de France for 2020? Is it the best way to prepare for the Olympic road race?
SY: For me personally, I think it's is the best way to go about it. It's not the only way, of course. The way the programme has mapped itself out has all sort of fallen into place. For me, I think going to the Tour would mean it's a little too short to get over the jet-lag and get used to the conditions.
CN: Taking the Olympics out of the equation, is there anything about the Giro you prefer?
SY: It's nothing huge but I really like the passion from the organisers and the fans. It's a completely different atmosphere from the other two Grand Tours in that regard and I really like that. Also, with my successes in 2018 I want to try and really want to go back and try to pull off the win.
CN: The Giro features a substantial 58.8km of time trials. How do you feel about the route?
SY: I think it's definitely one of the most important parts of the race. It's a very hard course, as always. I don't think there's ever been an 'easy' Giro. The time trials, I think, are where the biggest differences will be made.
You can see more and more every year that the top guys are close to each other on the climbs – there's not big differences anymore. In the time trials there are. They're definitely very important and I'll keep working hard to keep improving. I've been improving every year since I turned professional so hopefully, we can keep that going.
CN: Do you have an idea about your build-up to the Giro?
SY: I'll do different races to those I've done in the past. I'll do Coppi e Bartali, to really get a feel for the Italian roads and that race. It's a smaller race but there's a lot of time trialling – a TTT and an individual, so it's a lot of time on the TT bike in a race situation. I train a lot with a TT bike, but in a race situation I do It maybe three times a year. And for the Giro it's important to get some time on the bike.
CN: And what about the build-up to Tokyo?
SY: Racing-wise, I'm not sure yet. Maybe the Tour de Pologne, but we'll have to see. I would like to go out early and get used to the conditions and get over the jet-lag. For me personally, that's the best way to do it.
I've not ridden the course yet. But obviously I've seen the course and the profiles. And that's another reason why I'd like to go out early and really familiarise myself with that.
CN: Will you head there aiming for medals?
SY: Yeah, I think so. I think we (Great Britain) only have a small team – four riders – and it'll be a strong team, whoever goes. I don't know if they'd be doing the Tour coming into it or whatever.
I don't know who the guys will be, or even if I'll be going yet. I need to make sure of my own space. But when I was a kid, I wanted to be an Olympian. I've not been before, so it's very motivating to go and try to pull off a medal or even win.