Every year in the Tour de France a young rider announces himself to the world. For those who follow cycling all year round, this rider is probably already well-known. But as we know the Tour is the biggest cycle race on the planet and it commands attention well beyond any other WorldTour race, so when a new talent appears at the Tour, it is seized upon by everyone.
Regardless of whether he is on the podium in Paris, Adam Yates has had an exceptional Tour. He has climbed with the best, delivered a strong time-trial, and stayed out of trouble on the flat days. And he’s done so without the kind of team firepower that Movistar and Team Sky can dedicate to their GC leaders. Joining Orica-BikeExchange instead of Team Sky has proven to be wise decision by Adam and his twin brother Simon. Orica-BikeExchange have allowed them to develop at their own pace, and given them relative freedom. One suspects the brothers knew they wouldn’t fit into the Team Sky structures.
A professional since 2014, Adam’s first big result was winning the Tour of Turkey in his debut year. Then in 2015, after an impressive spring campaign and a debut at the Tour de France, he won the Clasica San Sebastian. Simon hasn’t had the notable wins of his brother, but there seems little doubt he is equally talented. In 2015 he came 5th overall in the Tour of the Basque Country and the Criterium du Dauphine, taking the white jersey in the latter race.
Up until 2016 their careers had followed the same trajectory, and their results, and therefore their value, had been comparable. But this year things have changed. Simon is currently serving a four month suspension for using Terbutaline without a TUE (which the UCI have accepted was an administrative error). Adam, meanwhile, has been ripping up the roads of France.
What is impressive about both Yates brothers is that they seem to be fully formed GC riders at such a young age. It’s more common for a rider to establish themselves as a specialist, like Dumoulin the time-triallist, or Bardet the climber, then develop the other aspects of their racing.
Team directors are always looking for the next potential Tour de France winner. It will be interesting to see if Adam and Simon are tempted away from Orica-BikeExchange, and whether this year changes the dynamic between them.
Photo by Marshall Kappel