Great Britain Olympic Academy Endurance Coach Chris Newton believes his young group of riders can build towards delivering the under-23 road world championship this year – citing Simon Yates as a strong candidate for the rainbow jersey.
Newton (pictured above), an Olympic silver medallist in Athens and former world champion on the track, pointed to Yates’ performance at last year’s Tour de l’Avenir as well as the course for September’s world championships, at Limburg in Holland, favouring the youngster.
Yates, 19, claimed the sixth stage at Fossano in last year’s ‘Tour of the Future’ as well as finishing tenth in the points standings, before adding victory on the domestic front in the Premier Calendar in the first Twinings Pro-Am. Newton admitted he has been surprised at his group’s progress – which includes George Atkins, Sam Harrison and Owain Doull - so much so that a world championship is not a ‘pie in the sky’ idea.
“We want to go and win it [the world championships], there are a couple of riders that have got the credentials at the moment,” Newton said. “If I was sat here last year with my new intake you wouldn’t have put that much pressure on them but they progressed so quickly and got results. I don’t think the worlds are a pie in the sky idea.”
On possible contenders for the title, he added: “If I said Simon Yates - he won a stage of the l’Avenir in a sprint finish that had a slight climb on the circuit before it went towards the finishing town and the guy has rode flat out. The team set themselves up, waited for the break to be caught then they controlled the race, led it out and delivered Yates to perfection and he won the race.
“The guy can sprint, can climb, so in Limburg with the Cauberg Hill climb and the finish a little further on, for someone likes Yates its ideal, it’s perfect. If he progresses as much this year as he did last year then you’ve got a star rider there.
“We always try to have a team unity. If we’re having a good day or a bad day, it’s all about the team. The team wins the race not an individual. Yates won a stage of the L’Avenir but he won it because of his teammates, they sacrificed everything and set him up and he appreciates that.”
Above: Yates (right) with National Madison Champion partner Mark Christian earlier in the year. Newton sees Yates as an under-23 rainbow jersey contender in 2012.
Before then the team has an arduous summer of road racing including the under-23 Nations’ Cup which concludes with the Tour de l'Avenir – a set of events which will determine if Great Britain secure the maximum quota of six riders for the world championships. In addition the team will travel to Holland pre-worlds for the European Road Championships and are likely to grace the domestic circuit with appearances in the Premier Calendar.
“Being the top 10 of the European rankings we need to be in the top five of the Nations’ Cup - it will give us six riders which would be a massive help for the worlds,” Newton commented.
“It’s mostly a European programme peppered with Premier Calendars – there we can field a bigger team and you can see a little bit of progression. It gives them a chance to race with their heads as well as their legs.
“Some of these international races they can be on the receiving end so it’s about getting experience – absorbing and learning the ways of how an international race goes. It’s slightly different to a domestic race. But then when they come back they are that bit fitter and have progressed that bit further and they can compete and use things have learnt to try and win, which is what happened last year with Yates [at the Twining Pro-Am].