TACTICS 101 # 8 Squad rotation is the hot strategy in grand tours
Many cycling pundits point out the difficulty in identifying which Yates twin is which in a bike race. However, in the first two and a half weeks of the Vuelta, it was easy - Simon was the one riding at the front, Adam was at the back. It was only when Adam came to the fore in the final two big mountain stages that we saw them both together at the front of the race (and Simon’s red jersey made it easy again to distinguish). By ‘resting’ Adam before the crunch stages, Mitchelton-Scott were executing a clever strategy. The risk was that Simon would be left without support early in the race, but the Vuelta was heavily backloaded, and Simon proved he was more than capable of looking after himself in the cagey early skirmishes. Then, when he really needed support, for his race-winning efforts on stages 19 and 20, he had all the help he needed from a comparatively fresh Adam. With grand tour rosters down to eight, and teams like Mitchelton unable to send full-strength teams to all three, they used their resources wisely. And they’re not the first team to use domestiques selectively. Sky also give climbing domestiques days off (though some, like Egan Bernal, don’t need them). This may be a risk, but if the rest of the team can support their leader on those, it gives them more options later. In Mitchelton’s case, it’s won them a grand tour.
Adam Yates comes to the front to lead his brother Simon up the climbs during the Vuelta's inal week