The British Yates twins, Adam and Simon, will "definitely" race this year's Tour de France, says their Orica-GreenEdge head sports director Matt White. White told Cyclingnews: "We're preparing both of them for the Tour de France. They're going to give us exciting options in that second part of the race."
Asked if he expected the Yates brothers to go for the overall classification or stage wins at the Tour, White replied: "Stage wins … stage wins, for sure." White then added that the 22 year-old brothers have known of their Tour program: "since November."
Asked if the decision to race them both in the Tour was due to a belief the pair will compliment each other, White said: "It's more that they are two options ... "They are amongst our best climbers. That is why they are [down] for the Tour.
"They are up for it. They are hungry, motivated kids and don't lack any confidence."
Talking before joining the Orica-GreenEdge team in the Netherlands for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race and next week's Belgian Ardennes classics — Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège — White said he has been impressed with how the Yates brothers have raced this season.
To best prepare them for the Tour, White devised a race program that would not only physically ready them for July, but also hone their leadership qualities
"I deliberately separated them for the start of the year. They are two good options [for the Tour], so I wanted them to lead in different races," White said.
Adam's highlight was his ninth place overall in Tirreno-Adriatico that was won by Nairo Quintana who beat Bauke Mollema, Rigoberto Uran, Thibaut Pinot, Alberto Contador, Stephen Cummings, Wout Poels, Domenico Pozzovivo and him in that order.
Simon's highlight was his fifth in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco won by Joaquim Rodriguez from Sergio Henao, Ion Izagirre, Quintana and him respectively.
And there is more success to come from the brothers, believes White – starting next week.
Simon Yates ... a dark horse for Flèche Wallonne
Adam is recovering from a fractured finger sustained in the first stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, was one of the select races he had been entered to race with his brother before the Tour. But White believes Simon is a bolter for Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne.
"I reckon he is a big outside chance, White said. "Flèche is not as long as Liege or Amstel. At the 200km mark, it's a four and a half hour race, not six and a half hours [like Liege-Bastogne-Liege]. Those shorter classics tend to suit younger riders better."
When the Yates brothers joined Orica-GreenEdge for last season, they signed one year contracts and excelled in their first year.
Adam last year won the Tour of Turkey, Grand Prix Industria and Artigianato di Larciano, and Tour de San Luis young rider's title, and was fifth in the Tour of California and Giro di Toscana, sixth in the Critérium du Dauphiné and finished his first grand tour, the Vuelta a Espana, placing 82nd.
Simon was seventh in the Tour of Slovenia in which he also won the young rider's title, and after recovering from a broken collar bone sustained in the Tour of Turkey he was third in the British title and a late pick for the Tour in which he featured in two breakaways before being withdrawn by Orica-GreenEdge after 15 stages to avoid overcooking him. Not that Simon was keen to be withdrawn. White fondly recalls his opposition to it.
"I didn't get a Christmas card from him," White said laughing of Yates' response.
Unsurprisingly, by the end of the season the Yates brothers had attracted much interest; especially from Sky who, White says, "threw a check book" at them.
Orica-GreenEdge managed to retain the pair though on a deal to the end of 2016.
"I wouldn't have thought of them, as being neo-pro, of being capable of doing the results they did last year," White said. "But they keep pleasantly surprising me."
Rupert Guinness is a sports writer on The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media).
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Rupert Guinness first wrote on cycling at the 1984 Victorian road titles in Australia from the finish line on a blustery and cold hilltop with a few dozen supporters. But since 1987, he has covered 26 Tours de France, as well as numerous editions of the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana, classics, world track and road titles and other races around the world, plus four Olympic Games (1992, 2000, 2008, 2012). He lived in Belgium and France from 1987 to 1995 writing for Winning Magazine and VeloNews, but now lives in Sydney as a sports writer for The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media) and contributor to Cyclingnews and select publications.
An author of 13 books, most of them on cycling, he can be seen in a Hawaiian shirt enjoying a drop of French rosé between competing in Ironman triathlons.
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