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Great Britain’s Simon Yates is eyeing the 2013 Tour of Britain as the ideal platform to showcase his talents to the cycling world and continue his fine form.
The 21-year-old has propelled himself into the limelight with a series of distinguished displays on the road, most recently taking successive stage wins at the Tour de l’Avenir in France as twin brother Adam finished second in the general classification.
It took under 23 British road champion Yates, who started 2013 by becoming a world champion on the track in the points race, to three stage wins in the ‘Tour of the Future’ having won stage seven in Fossano in 2011.
The tenth anniversary of the Tour of Britain, starting on Sunday in Peebles, Scotland, features five UCI Pro Teams for Yates to assess his abilities against and the Bury-born rider is zealously awaiting the prospect of racing in a field which features Grand Tour jersey winners Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Nairo Quintana.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” said Yates, who will ride alongside brother Adam in the eight stage event. “I’m really looking forward to it. Last year it was a really enjoyable experience.
“It is a big step up but it’s also a good opportunity to show yourself and I think with that sort of motivation it sort of balances itself out a bit, it spurs you on to show some of your idols and top riders in the sport just how good you are really.”
Yates gave an early season indicator of his road form with third in La Cote Picarde in the UCI under 23 Nations’ Cup back in April.
Noteworthy performances followed in the Ardennes Challenge, where Yates went home with the overall, king of the mountains and best under 23 rider jerseys, and May’s An Post Ras, as Yates topped the youth classification.
Victories on stages five and six of the Tour de l’Avenir confirmed Yates’ promise as a rider who can both 'climb and sprint’ according to Great Britain coach Chris Newton and the hilly parcours for this year’s Tour of Britain could help him leave his mark on the race.
“With the big teams being there it will be a lot more controlled,” Yates said. “We’ll just have to see, we’ll have to try and play it in my favour and see how the other teams are riding it.
“It is a big step up but it spurs you on to show some of your idols and top riders in the sport just how good you are really.”
“If it’s exploding on the climbs then hopefully I can try and get up there on them but with being an under 23 it is going to be hard, but I’m looking forward to giving it a shot.
“It looks a lot tougher than last year. Last year one of the hardest stages was the Caerphilly stage and that looks one of the easiest this year! Yates joked. “It looks real tough but that should play into my favour really, the harder the better if I’m honest.”
In 2012’s edition, Yates rode alongside Josh Edmondson in the Great Britain team with the latter’s exertions earning praise. The 21-year-old signed for Team Sky for the 2013 season as a neo-pro and for Yates it a case study of what a strong ride in the event can do for aspiring riders.
“It’s a perfect showcase,” Yates said. “If a lot of the big teams are riding it, and you show yourself as Josh did on a couple of stages, it really opens their eyes and you can show them firsthand how good you are. It’s a massive opportunity.”
Brother Adam, as well Owain Doull, Ali Slater, George Atkins and Sam Lowe were also named in Great Britain’s provisional squad.
Neither Simon nor Adam, who rides for French trade team CC Etupes and has been also attracted praise for his performances this year, automatically assumes the role of the leader prior to races and there are no plans to change the approach for the Tour of Britain.
“A lot of the time that’s the best way to do it (decide on the road),” Yates said.
“One of us could have a bad day, one of us could have a good day and if you keep it quite open it works in our favour. It worked out perfectly in Avenir and hopefully the same thing happens again.”
The Tour of Britain begins on Sunday 15 September in Peebles, with live blogging throughout every stage on the British Cycling website at www.britishcycling.org.uk/toblive and daily live TV coverage on Eurosport and ITV4.