Simon Yates has effectively won La Vuelta with only Sunday’s processional stage to go, which would make it five British wins in a row in road cycling’s biggest races.
Here Press Association Sport brings you the lowdown on the 26-year-old Mitchelton-Scott rider.
Don’t confuse Simon with his twin brother Adam – something the people controlling the graphics for the Tour de France this summer managed to do when Simon was not even competing. The pair have followed different paths in their careers, and though they are team-mates with Mitchelton-Scott, this year’s Vuelta is a rare case of them competing in the same race – to the extent they say they rarely see each other through the year.
Bred on the track
The Yates twins were first introduced to cycling by their father, who took them the short distance from home in Bury to the Manchester Velodrome. They quickly caught the bug and were soon racing for Eastlands Velo and Bury Clarion. Simon’s talent saw him selected for British Cycling’s academy and he excelled on the track, winning the Madison at the UCI Junior Track World Championships alongside Dan McLay in 2010, and the points race in the Track World Championships in 2013. But the road continued to call, and after an outstanding stage victory in the 2013 Tour of Britain, he joined Adam in signing for their current team, then known as Orica-GreenEDGE, in 2014.
Grand Tour record
Yates made his Grand Tour debut as a late selection for the 2014 Tour de France, which started in Yorkshire, with the 21-year-old given a brief simply to go out and gain experience. He got himself in two breakaways before making a planned withdrawal on the second rest day. Yates returned the following year and made it to Paris, finishing 89th. A year later he focused on La Vuelta and took victory on stage six on his way to sixth place overall. It was back to the Tour in 2017 when he emulated his brother’s achievement of 12 months before in winning the young riders’ classification, finishing seventh overall. But things have snowballed quickly in 2018, starting with the Giro d’Italia in May. Yates rode an aggressive race and held the race leader’s pink jersey for 13 days before running out of gas on stage 19 as Chris Froome launched the spectacular long-range attack which carried him to victory. Yates said he learned plenty of lessons which he has carried into La Vuelta.
In 2016, Yates tested positive for the banned substance terbutaline during Paris-Nice in April. Yates’ team claimed full responsibility, saying the team doctor had failed to apply for a therapeutic use exemption for his asthma inhaler – an explanation accepted by the sport’s world governing body the UCI as he was subsequently handed a four-month ban for “non-intentional doping”.
Bury boys no more
Though they honed their talents in the Pennine hills around home in Bury, both Yates twins have left Lancashire behind and make their home in Andorra, putting the Pyrenean mountains on their doorstep. Though he still makes the odd trip home, do not expect to see Yates out and about in Bury too often. “The UK is not a great place to train,” he said in July. “It rains all the time. It’s quite dangerous. The roads are in terrible condition. You compare that to Andorra, it’s hard to go back there and think, ‘I love it here’. It just makes life more difficult, because my life is cycling.”
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