Tokyo Olympics: Simon Yates thankful to start after Tour de France crash

LE GRAND BORNAND FRANCE JULY 03 Simon Yates of The United Kingdom and Team BikeExchange during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 8 a 1508km stage from Oyonnax to Le GrandBornand LeTour TDF2021 on July 03 2021 in Le Grand Bornand France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

After crashing out of the Tour de France on stage 13, Simon Yates is simply thankful to be on the start line of the men's road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Yates came down in a mass crash on stage 13 of the Tour when the peloton hit a section of unmarked gravel during a descent. He wasn't the only rider to leave the race that day in an ambulance and it briefly looked as though his Olympic chances lay in the balance.

Luckily for the former Vuelta a España winner, though, he only had superficial wounds, and although obviously painful, he was able to travel to Tokyo.

On Saturday he will form part of a four-man team in the men's road race that includes his brother Adam Yates, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Geraint Thomas as they look to secure Britain's first men's road race medal in the Olympic Games since Max Sciandri's bronze in Atlanta in 1996.

"We know pretty much all of the course and we're just looking forward to racing now. It's going to be difficult to win and it's going to be a very selective course," Simon Yates said when asked about the 234-kilometre course he and his teammates will take on this weekend.

"It's hot and humid. It'll be a little bit cooler on race day but it's still going to be tough and it's about managing those things, putting them together and trying to pull it off towards the end of the race."

There are three Grand Tour winners in the team, but their one-day pedigree isn't quite at that same level. Most of the riders involved have tasted one-day success in the pro ranks but Yates knows that the environment they will face in Saturday's road race is completely different.

"As riders on the team we have a really good chance but it's about putting those pieces together," he said. "A stage race is different to a one-day race and there are nations [that] have more experience than us when it comes to winning on a bigger stage in a one-day race, but we'll see how it goes and go from there. We have a strong team, and we'll give it a go regardless. We'll do the best that we can," he said.

Yates also reiterated Thomas' earlier sentiment, stating there were no rivalries within the British camp. Three out of the four riders on the team ride at the same trade team, with the exception, Simon Yates, related to another member of the squad – so the chance of an intra-team split remains low.

"We're all on the same page, it can go anyway and we've all got a good chance to win. It depends on the cards played in the race and what other teams do as well. There's no rivalry from any sides there," he said.

Leadership had yet to be decided when Yates talked to the press on Thursday morning but the third-placed finisher in the Giro did explain that being on the start line was a relief after the less-than-ideal build-up he had gone through.

"Luckily I came away with just a lot of bruising," he said in relation to his Tour de France crash.

"That took some time to get over, it's not like I just walked away with nothing. There was lots of scratching and I thought that I'd done something to my hip but luckily that's ok. I'm just thankful that I can be on the start line."

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