As the Tour of Britain heads into its two toughest stages, keep an eye out for the young guns on the Great Britain team, and particularly for the Yates brothers, who made such an impact at the Tour de L’Avenir earlier this month. Double L’Avenir stage-winner Simon has his sights set on a top 10 finish in London on Sunday, while twin brother Adam, runner-up at the L’Avenir, is relishing the prospect of Friday’s summit finish at Haytor in Devon.
World points race champion Simon admitted to a bit of disappointment following his time trial performance in Knowsley, where he dropped from second overall to 11th, but insisted he’s not out of the GC battle yet.
“I came here with the GC in the back of my mind, but knew I would lose quite a bit in this test,” he told Cyclingnews. “There are some quite hilly days coming up and I could show myself there. I went quite well on the Caerphilly stage last year, but there are some good guys here – [Nairo] Quintana, Dan Martin, so it’s a bit of a tall order.”
Adam Yates, who races for the same CC Étupes club that produced Vuelta a España stage-winners Warren Barguil and Kenny Elissonde, said his Tour of Britain experience hasn’t been as positive thanks to a crash coming off the Honister Pass in the Lake District on Monday. “My bike broke on the descent off the Honister – it snapped clean after I hit a hole. I went straight into a fence and into a woman at about 60k an hour and lost 30 minutes,” he said.
“There are still some good stages ahead for me. I’ve got my eye on that stage in Devon, although Simon could make the top 10 and I will work for him. But, because he’s my brother, he’ll let me have a bit of a freedom if I’m feeling good. I reckon that stage is going to be a really savage one, but I’ll have a good crack at it.”
On the back of his second place in the Tour de l’Avenir, Adam Yates acknowledges he is likely to start next week’s World under 23 road race as one of the favourites. “It’s a really good course for me. It’s got a 4km climb, then a descent, then a really steep 1km climb. I’ve not seen it yet, but I’ve had a look on Google Maps and everyone who has been there says it’s really difficult. It should suit me if I have the same legs I did in L’Avenir. I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
After the Worlds, the Yates brothers will turn their attention to offers they’ve had from a number of pro teams for next season. “You’ll find out more in the next couple of weeks,” said Adam when asked about the squads interested. “I’m really looking forward to it, though. It’s great seeing guys like Warren Barguil and Kenny Elissonde winning stages at the Vuelta as they were on the same team that I’m on now. Thibaut Pinot was also on the team, so it looks good for my future. The CC Étupes is a great development team and hopefully one year I’ll be up with those guys, although I don’t think it will be next year. You’ve got to find your place in the peloton first.”
Simon Yates backed this up. “If and when we do turn pro next season, it will be all about learning, getting to know the tricks of the trade. It does give me a bit of confidence seeing guys like Barguil and Elissonde winning stages at grand tours. It shows it can be done if you’ve got the right mindset and the motivation.”
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).