Simon Yates quietly grows into grand Tour rider

Sun Apr 26, 2015 1:26pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

LIEGE, Belgium (Reuters) - A modest Simon Yates believes he is still a long way from winning the Tour de France but the Briton already knows what he has to do to get his chance to wear the yellow jersey on the Champs Elysees.

The 22-year-old could have joined Team Sky, who produced Britain's two Tour de France winners in Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, but he went with his twin brother Adam to Australian outfit Orica GreenEDGE.

The Yates brothers, who both have the abilities to mature into grand Tour contenders, would probably have started as domestiques to Froome and Australian Richie Porte in the three-week races -- not the best way to learn the ropes of being a team leader, Simon believes.

"I wanted to learn how to race. I don’t think when you’re working at the front, you’re learning how to race," Simon, who is expected to race the Tour with his brother this year, told Reuters in an interview ahead of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic.

"You might get stronger because you ride in the front all the time but you don’t learn how to race, you don’t see how the guys who win races race, you don’t see how they win.

"You don’t know what goes on at the squeaky end of the race."

Simon, who moved to Spain for better training conditions with his brother, has impressed since he turned professional with Orica-GreenEDGE last year, finishing 12th and fifth overall in the demanding Tour of the Basque country.

The year before he went pro, Simon won two stages of the Tour de l'Avenir, a famous Under-23 race, also ending up third overall in the Tour of Britain.   Continued...

Britain's Simon Yates celebrates his gold medal during the men's points race at the 2013 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk, February 22, 2013.  REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko