Simon Yates has dismissed the notion that he will find it problematic to race against his brother, Adam Yates, after the latter decided to move to Ineos Grenadiers over the winter.
The siblings turned professional with Orica GreenEdge in 2014 and raced on the Australian team until Adam departed on a two-year deal. Simon has remained at Team BikeExchange and will lead the squad at either the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France before focusing on the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
At the Team BikeExchange training camp in Spain, he told Cyclingnews that racing against his brother could even add an extra spark of interest for cycling fans.
“It will be interesting. I don’t know if we’re going to do the same races. I don’t know his race programme yet and if we’ll cross paths or not. I’m sure that if we race each other it will be exciting for the fans. He’s there [at Ineos. ed] and he’s on a training camp with those guys and I think that it’s going well,” Simon Yates told Cyclingnews.
“From the racing side, if we have different race programmes then it doesn’t really change anything. If we have the same then for sure it’s going to be hard to race against each other. I don’t think that it’s going to be a problem though, I just have to think of him as someone else. It’s just that I know how good he is, so unfortunately it’s going to be hard. But we had a training camp together in Gran Canaria already and it’s just this camp here where it’s been different and we’ve not trained together.”
As Yates eluded to, the pair could avoid each other if Simon, for example, focuses on the Giro d’Italia and then targets stage wins in the Tour de France, where Adam could be required to work for a Grand Tour leader such as Egan Bernal or Geraint Thomas.
Simon Yates has a relatively sparse calendar at this point, with Valenciana his first outing and no spring Classics on his schedule. At some point, sooner or later, the brothers will find themselves rubbing shoulders at the front of the peloton and competing against one another. When this happens Yates believes that their professionalism will shine through when it matters and that team orders will dictate their behaviour.
“We’ve not raced each other yet but I can’t see it being a problem. We both want to win big races, we’re both professionals and I’m sure that the legs will decide,” he said.
“I would have liked him to stay but sometimes you have to make those decisions. He was happy here as well but there was an opportunity to change.”
Change for Simon Yates was also a possibility during his career with several suitors having waved suitcases of cash in his direction over the years in a bid to lure him away from Gerry Ryan but the 2018 Vuelta a España winner has resisted every chance to leave the Australian team.
“You always think that the grass is always greener on the other side but I’m comfortable here. They get me, I get them and a lot of the riders know how I ride now. That wasn’t the case in the first couple of years and it took a long time to really gel and understand each other. Now that I have that, if I go to another team and start again, it might take forever. For me, I’m comfortable here and if it’s not broken why fix it.”
Olympic Games priority
Yates is still waiting on the full route announcement for the Giro d’Italia before announcing his Grand Tour plans for this year but with a heavy load of time trial kilometers in the Tour de France and a need to save energy due to the close proximity between the Tour and the Olympics the likely scenario will see the 28-year-old challenge for the maglia rosa and then target stages in July. That plan has yet to be confirmed by Yates and his team but it would certainly allow him breathing room as he gears up for Tokyo and a course that perfectly suits his skill set.
“I didn’t grow up wanting to win the Tour or anything like that, I grew up wanting to be an Olympic champ, especially on the track. Obviously, my career evolved into something else but I still dream of going and competing in the Olympics. It just so happens that the course is good for me and I dream of winning the gold, or whatever. I’ve still got to get my place in the team and we only have four riders, so it will be tough to make the selection but we’ll see,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’ve not been there in person but I’ve done a lot of recon on the computer. I’ve ridden virtually around the laps and done specific efforts for the race. I think that from what everyone has told me it’s going to be some of the most hostile conditions on earth and that will decide the race.”
“But in terms of the Grand Tours, I don’t have a preference yet but I dream about going to the Olympics so a lot of my season revolves around that. Obviously, I have a team and they pay my wage so I have to do certain races, so like I said we’re still waiting for the Giro and the parcours. We know the Tour and it doesn’t look great for me. There are a lot of time trialling kilometers and a lot more flat stages than I would like. So we’ll wait to see which one I’ll target for GC and which one I’ll target for stages, as I did in 2019.”
Another tilt at the Giro could also provide Yates with closure in a race that he has been trying to win since 2018 when he led but crumbled in the final few days. He finished eighth a year later but was forced out of the 2020 event due to a positive test for COVID-19.
“If the route is good for the Giro then that’s probably the best direction. Then you can do the Tour as training and go for certain stages so that you don’t finish completely tired but I can’t say just yet because we just need to wait. I don’t really have a preference because they’re both great races. Obviously, I’d like to go back and try and win the Giro but if this isn’t the year then so be it.”