It has been an unprecedented year of success on the road for British riders in 2018 and the nation team is looking to crown it with victory in the men's road race at the World Championships. Vuelta a Espana winner Simon Yates and his brother Adam Yates will lead the charge, backed by six riders, including climbers Hugh Carthy, Peter Kennaugh and Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Most of the pre-race discussion has centred on Julian Alaphilippe and Alejandro Valverde. However, in the Yates twins, Britain stands a very realistic chance at taking the men's world title for the first time since Mark Cavendish in 2011, and they have their sights set on victory.
"You go into every race trying to win, it doesn't matter what race. Even if it is a small race you want to win just like everyone else who turns up on Sunday," Adam Yates told Cyclingnews on Friday evening. "It would be a fantastic achievement, it would be a great way to cap off the year. You get to wear the jersey for the next year so it cements everything and sets you up for the next year. It has been a fantastic year already."
Despite Simon's recent overall win at the Vuelta a Espana the Yates brothers have had a decidedly low-key build-up to the road race in Innsbruck. Though they were both racing in Spain up until just two weeks ago, their preparations has been quite different. With a red jersey to defend, Simon had to dig a little deeper across the three weeks and it remains to be seen how he's come out of the race particularly given the brutality of some of the mountain stages.
"You never really know how you come out of a Grand Tour, it can either be really good or it can be really bad. The sensations are ok at the moment. I've done the recon for the course but we just don't know until the day. We'll see when we get there," Simon Yates told Cyclingnews. "I took a bit of rest, you have to after any Grand Tour. I started training again just to make sure that the body is ticking over and I don't forget how to ride a bike. I always started the Vuelta with coming here also. It wasn't just Vuelta and finished. I always had an eye on coming here and trying to win this here.
"Over the last couple of years, it hasn't been a course that has suited me at all. It has been one for the sprinters and guys who are a bit quicker but here it looks it's going to be a filthy day, which is good for me."
While Simon Yates was at the pointy end of the general classification at the Vuelta, his brother was able to conserve his energy as best he could in the opening two weeks before coming to the assistance of his brother in the final week. It was a tactic employed by Mitchelton-Scott after their experiences in the last week of the Giro d'Italia but it could pay off for him this Sunday.
"If I'm honest, it was all about the Vuelta, but it backs up when you come to the Worlds 13 days later. If you hold back a bit, you're always going to save energy and feel a bit fresher coming out of the Vuelta. I feel good and I feel fresh and that's a good sign," explained Adam Yates.
"You do one or two hard training rides before, but other than that it's really hard to say how you're going. It's the same for all the guys. You can feel good in the climbs and you're putting out good power but you never know how you're feeling and how the fatigue levels are. It will be the same for everyone who did the Vuelta."
After a short break following the Vuelta, the brothers arrived in Innsbruck on Wednesday and completed a full-day recon of the course on Thursday.
"It's a really hard course but it's a good course for us. It's one of the hardest Worlds we've seen for a long time," explained Adam. "[The Hell Climb is] steep, really steep. It could be a big difference when you come to it from the long climb, just because it is so steady and you turn off and you've got one steep climb still so it could be a shock to the system. Again, the climb suits me and Simon, but also the whole team."
The Hell Climb is expected to rule out almost all but the best climbers with gradients northwards of 25 per cent. However, some of the Classics riders could feature in the finale if the race isn't so aggressive, according to Simon Yates.
"We don't know that until we really race," he said. "It could be raced really conservatively and then some of the guys who do the Ardennes Classics could still be there in the final, which would be bad news for me because they're a bit fast. We'll have to see how the race goes before we talk about that.
"The whole day is very demanding. The descent is nice after the climb but it's still quite technical and quite fast so you have to be focused. You can't really switch off all day. It's going to be at least seven and a half hours, which is a long time to stay on a bike. It's going to be a hard day but I think everyone is focused on it."
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