Adam and Simon took up cycling when their father took them to the National Cycling Centre, Manchester, and introduced them to his local Bury Clarion cycling club. With the pair splitting their time between the road and the track, where they rode for the Eastlands Velo club, their talents soon brought them to the attention of British Cycling.
Initially, Adam pursued his career in France, with the financial backing of the Dave Rayner Fund, but a second-placed finish, by just 55 seconds, behind Spanish rider Ruben Fernandez in the general classification at the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir in 2013, while representing the Great Britain team, announced his arrival to the wider cycling world.
After spending 2013 with French amateur team CC Etupes, Yates’s form brought him the offer of a contract with ORICA-GreenEDGE, along with his twin, for the 2014 season and Adam duly celebrated by finishing 11th overall, and first in the young rider classification, at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.
Within weeks, Adam had well and truly made his mark in the professional ranks, becoming team leader on stage three of the Tour of Turkey following his brother’s crash and exit from the race. Stage six brought Adam his first professional victory, on a finishing climb in Selcuk, and also earned him the blue leader’s jersey which he held until the race’s conclusion in Istanbul two days later.
A fifth place overall followed, behind winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, at the Tour of California and sixth at the Criterium du Dauphine and, although he was rested for the Tour de France, Adam returned to winning ways at the GP Industria & Artigianato di Larciano in Italy in July and only a crash, with 3.5 kilometres remaining, at the Clasica de San Sebastian denied him the chance of his first World Tour victory.
Grand Tour experience
Before the end of the 2014 campaign, there was the consolation of his first Grand Tour start, and an 82nd-placed finish, at the Vuelta a Espana, an experience which would stand him in good stead ahead of a successful 2015 season.
A ninth-placed finish at the Tirreno-Adriatico and a top 20 at the Criterium du Dauphine, the traditional preparation race for the Tour de France, was followed by Adam gaining his first selection for the Tour in July.
Highlights from that race, won by Great Britain Cycling Team mate Chris Froome, included a seventh place on stage eight, which finished on the Mur-de-Bretagne, and seventh on the opening mountain stage, on the Col de la Pierre St Martin in the Pyrenees.
The Bury-born rider clearly held his form into the later stages of 2015, taking his biggest victory to date at the 219-kilometre Clasica de San Sebastian. In a hilly finale, Adam attacked on the final climb, the Bordaka Tontorra, taking advantage when leader Greg Van Avermaet was hit by a race motorbike, and soloed to victory, finishing 15 seconds ahead of Belgian Philippe Gilbert and the chasing group.
In the wake of Van Avermaet’s crash, Adam did not realise he had won and did not celebrate as he crossed the line but, having become the first British rider to win that coveted race, his strong form continued with a second on general classification, and first in the young rider classification, at the six-stage Tour of Alberta and a second place, behind Belgium’s Tim Wellens, at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal.
At only 23, Adam was fulfilling the early, exciting promise he had long shown and he continued to do so into the 2016 road season. Top tens in February at the La Drome Classic and Classic Sud-Ardeche in France were followed by a fourth place overall in front of home crowds in the Tour of Yorkshire.
But, despite such a solid start to the campaign, Yates still stunned the cycling world in July when, at the age of 23, he challenged the best stage racers in the world at the Tour de France. His performance on stage seven was particularly memorable as he broke away from his main rivals on the descent of the Col d’Aspin only to be struck when an inflatable banner collapsed on him one kilometre from the finish. Yates needed stitches to his face but was awarded the time he lost, moving him into the white jersey and second overall.
The young British rider would remain in contention for a podium finish throughout the remainder of the Tour, and hold the white jersey for the rest of the contest, only to eventually miss out on third place by 21 seconds to one of the pre-race favourites Nairo Quintana, although a fourth-placed finish heralded Yates’ arrival as a force on the world stage.