Speaking just a few days ahead of the UCI Road World Championships under 23 race in Florence, Great Britain’s Simon and Adam Yates are looking ahead to a race and a parcours which suits the twin sensations from Bury.
Above: Simon Yates climbing Caerphilly Mountain during the Tour of Britain.
At a press conference in the Tuscan team hotel, the pair, who head a Great Britain team including Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Alistair Slater and Joe Perrett appeared relaxed and pragmatic as the 173-kilometre race approaches, despite heightened media interest and expectation following their recent success in the Tour de l’Avenir and the Tour of Britain.
“It should be good. Exciting times ahead”, said Simon on Tuesday. “We haven’t actually been around the course yet but we’re going tomorrow so we’ll see.
“On paper it looks good. We’ll see what the course is like and assess from there.”
“I guess we never go into a proper game plan do we? We normally wait it out. We’ve just got to wait until it’s whittled down a bit and take it from there really.”
Yates’ laid back, pragmatic approach is perhaps underpinned by a quiet confidence in the talent that he and his identical twin brother share. Underlying their pre-race attitude is the knowledge that they’ve got the form, firepower and race-savvy to respond to whatever the race might throw at them.
This was ably demonstrated at the Tour de l’Avenir when the pair crossed the finish line in Morzine in familial formation, Adam going on to finish second on general classification with Simon picking up two stage victories. Ditto the Tour of Britain, where Simon finished third overall, his mountain top victory in Dartmoor almost eclipsing Wiggins’ overall victory from a British cycling fan’s perspective.
“It was a really great experience,” said Simon. “The more I look back on it the better it seems I think. Being in that sort of company – I couldn’t ask for much better.
“We went into the Tour looking at that stage really trying to show ourselves,” continued Simon. ”It’s the only summit finish ever in the Tour of Britain. We thought it would be a good place to show ourselves and a good stage to target and do well in. Maybe not to win but that’s all about the legs on the day.”
Above: Adam Yates signs autographs ahead of stage seven of the Tour of Britain in Surrey.
Brother Adam’s Tour of Britain was marred by a freak accident on stage two in the Lake District, when his fork steerer sheared on the descent of Honister Pass. However the 21-year-old is hopeful he’ll be able to perform in Italy.
“We went into the mountain top finish with the aim of winning or doing our best. I had a bit of bad luck; I crashed on the hard one, the Honister Pass one,” he said.
“I crashed on the descent and lost 30 minutes. I’ve still got sore ribs now so I’m suffering a bit with my breathing so I wasn’t able to get up there as much.
The brothers rely on the mantra of ‘we’ll see’ – a mindset that has served them well throughout the 2013 season.
“Hopefully I’ve recovered but at the moment I’m still suffering a bit. There’s nothing broken but I’m really badly bruised. But even if it was broken there’s not much you can do with ribs. If I didn’t have any painkillers I would have had to go home, I wouldn’t be riding.”
If the Yates brothers were hard to draw as regards their race tactics and chance of victory, they were less reluctant to acknowledge their major rivals for the race in Florence, Adam flagging up Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, who took an emphatic solo stage victory in the Tour de l’Avenir.
Adam also flagged up Belgian Jasper Stuyven, who won the Volta ao Alentejo in March as well as a stage of the Tour de Beauce in Canada in June.
Yet a single day race like the worlds difficult to predict, so the brothers rely on the mantra of ‘we’ll see’ – a mindset that has served them well throughout the 2013 season.
“I guess we never go into a proper game plan do we?” said Adam. “We normally wait it out. We’ve just got to wait until it’s whittled down a bit and take it from there really.”
“Wait for the selection really,” added Simon. “(You need to) see what’s going to happen on a course this hard, wait for that and then pick your move.”
The under 23 men’s road race takes place on Friday 27 September, beginning at 12:00 BST.