We ride with Bury Clar­ion, the club at which both Yates brothers first turned a crank in earnest, to trace the or­gins of our new Grand Tour stars

Cycling Weekly - - YATES -

Rolling up to the fam­i­ly­owned, cy­clingth­emed Drop Off Cafe in Eden­field just north of Bury, it is clear the pas­sion for the sport is alive and well. A bright yel­low steed perched upon the cafe’s sign in­vites both bike and rider into the cafe’s con­fines to shel­ter from the brisk au­tum­nal con­di­tions. As a gag­gle of Bury Clar­ion riders stride in to get their pre-ride cof­fee, wear­ing a mish-mash of the old and new club kit, they dis­cuss the for­tunes of Manch­ester’s two foot­ball clubs from the night be­fore. Nev­er­the­less, it’s the suc­cess of two lo­cal cy­clists who have reached the pin­na­cle of the sport that is the rea­son why we have de­scended on Rams­bot­tom just north of the town that the young Yates brothers resided in.

Bury Clar­ion’s growth in the past 20 years has been sub­stan­tial to say the least, ris­ing from 30 mem­bers in to­tal — where only half would ac­tu­ally ride — to around 160 ac­tive mem­bers in 2018, in­clud­ing the for­ma­tion of a women’s side of the club. Twenty years ago to­day’s turnout would have rep­re­sented the en­tire mem­ber­ship join­ing my­self on a ride around the lo­cal area on a grey but calm au­tum­nal morn­ing. How­ever, there were two mem­bers who stood out back then more than most — for their stature more than any­thing.

“They were ab­so­lutely tiny,” re­calls for­mer club chair­man Nick Hall.

“You won­dered would th­ese lit­tle kids keep up, and they may have lacked a bit of stamina at that age but they were al­ways pretty quick and rac­ing each other to the top of the hills. But it didn’t take long to get the stamina ei­ther.”

Hall is re­count­ing the tale of Si­mon and Adam Yates’s first foray into club cy­cling, as I ride­with him and 30 other Clar­ion riders around the roads sur­round­ing Bury and Rochdale. He ex­plains how their fa­ther and lo­cal club helped them on that jour­ney. “John [Yates, Adam and Si­mon’s fa­ther] used to do a lot of run­ning but stopped and got into cy­cling and got them into it, and it was a sim­i­lar time to when the velo­drome in Manch­ester opened [1994]. So it was re­ally good tim­ing as they got that bug for rac­ing.”

From as long as Hall knew the twins, he re­calls how they would claim they wanted to be pro­fes­sional cy­clists. Many young Man­cu­nian boys want to play for Manch­ester United when they are older but few do. The Yates’s pipe dream, how­ever, would turn into a re­al­ity.

In the Clar­ion’s lean years, when only a hand­ful of ac­tive mem­bers ex­isted, Hall re­veals that or­gan­ised club rides weren’t quite so preva­lent as they are to­day.

“They were ab­so­lutely tiny. You won­dered if they would keep up”

“There might be me, John and a cou­ple of oth­ers and then of­ten Si­mon and Adam. We would or­gan­ise a looped ride and then they would add an ex­tra loop on, so we would do a ride and they would fly off and then re-join. John was con­scious of safety with two 14-year-old lads out on the roads in the dark and you’ve got to be care­ful. It was fairly ob­vi­ous, though, they had quite a lot of tal­ent at a very young age.”

The tal­ented two­some may have ori­gins with Bury Clar­ion but due to their youth and sud­den rise to promi­nence at the Manch­ester Velo­drome the gifted pair was re­quired to ride for Maxgear Cy­cling as first claim mem­bers, and only ride for Bury Clar­ion on the side — which has now un­sur­pris­ingly been up­graded to hon­orary sta­tus.

Per­haps their big­gest suc­cess for Clar­ion came in the form of na­tional clar­ion team pur­suit ti­tle in 2003, which Hall is more than

happy to bring up, as he formed one quar­ter of the four­some that day. “I got dropped af­ter about six laps, but I’ve still got the medal.”

Even though many of to­day’s Clar­ion club mem­bers joined long af­ter the Yates brothers moved on up the cy­cling ranks, it is clear that they are proud to be as­so­ci­ated with the club that has helped them on their way to achiev­ing their goals. Speak­ing to a num­ber of riders it is clear that Bury Clar­ion is a club that pro­vides sup­port for riders at ev­ery step of the cy­cling lad­der, from those who are train­ing for the Tour de Manc and the Haute Route or oth­ers who just want to get out and en­joy the so­cial side of cy­cling.

As we slowly edge our way up the fi­nal as­cent of our 40-kilo­me­tre route, Hall re­calls the sig­nif­i­cance of the Ash­worth Val­ley climb when the Yates brothers re­turned to ride with Clar­ion af­ter first turn­ing pro.

“We per­suaded them to come back for a ride with us af­ter they first signed with Orica-green Edge, and sort of left the route to them and this was one of climbs they chose for us. We man­aged to stay to­gether as a group but they were there chat­ting away at the front chill­ing, whilst we were all dy­ing be­hind rid­ing at our max­i­mum heart rate.”

It is un­sur­pris­ing they chose this route and climb in par­tic­u­lar; as the road be­gins to pitch up above 10 per cent, I vi­su­alise the sight of the Yates brothers danc­ing on the ped­als while I’m be­com­ing ac­quainted with the pain that those Bury Clar­ion riders felt that day. As we reach the sum­mit and take in the views across the South Pen­nines, the sweet re­lief of the fast down­hill into Eden­field brings with it the end of our ride. Just as I rack my bike up out­side The Drop Off, once again the heav­ens be­gin to open; thank­fully the cof­fees and cakes are served up by cafe owner Colin Davies who re­calls him­self how the sight­ing of a Yates brother rolling up can hap­pen at the un­like­li­est of times.

“I think it was the 2016 Tour, Adam Yates won the white jersey in Paris rid­ing up the Champs-elysées on the Sun­day and was out­side here with a brew on the Tues­day morn­ing go­ing out on a so­cial ride with his dad.”

Hav­ing seen the Yates brothers ride with his own chil­dren, Davies is de­lighted to see them both come good. “We’ve known both of them since they were two cheeky 11-year-old kids. As and when Si­mon comes in, it’s up to him, he has too nice a life­style to come back to this weather.”

When he does re­turn, ap­par­ently it’s the lo­cal cafe’s beans on toast and a stan­dard cof­fee that is his usual or­der.

“I can’t re­mem­ber the last time he came in, he’s had a busy year so he’s not had the time to come back.”

“Sun­day he’s on the Champs Elysées, Tues­day he’s here hav­ing a brew”

As Davies rem­i­nisces about pre­vi­ous Clar­ion young­sters find­ing their way through to the pro ranks, I’m in­trigued to find out about the up and com­ing Clar­ion gen­er­a­tion. As I sit down with club chair­man Peter Fos­ter it is clear that it is an area that Bury Clar­ion are keen to in­vest time and ef­fort into as the hunt for the next Si­mon or Adam be­gins.

“In March we had three chil­dren turn­ing up to our coach­ing ses­sions, which we ran down at Bury Foot­ball Club in their car park. We had a bit of a change around with a dif­fer­ent style of coach­ing and we seem to be con­sis­tently get­ting 20 chil­dren now, which is ex­cel­lent!”

This link up with the lo­cal foot­ball club — who aren’t ex­actly liv­ing on sim­i­lar re­sources to many other wealth­ier foot­ball clubs in the area — has also seen them donate a hut to Clar­ion to use dur­ing the win­ter sea­son for the chil­dren to learn how to ride and train on rollers. Which can only help grow the Bury Clar­ion Bul­lets, as the youth set-up is named. “That’s what we need, we need those chil­dren com­ing through and we’re hop­ing by this time next year we will have a good per­cent­age of them rac­ing as well. The com­pe­ti­tion isn’t too great, but it’s about get­ting chil­dren into cy­cling and let­ting them know it’s avail­able,” says Davies.

One of the main rea­sons for this in­flux of lo­cal chil­dren tak­ing up the sport is the suc­cess of Si­mon Yates and his brother. With po­ten­tially many more Grand Tour ti­tles and one-day suc­cesses to be shared be­tween them, it wouldn’t be a sur­prise if Bury Clar­ion’s mem­ber­ship con­tin­ues to grow. They may even re­quire an­other hut to host the next in­flux of Yates wannabes.

Clar­ion club num­bers have surged on the back of the twins’ World­tour suc­cess

Lan­cashire lanes are a prov­ing ground for the pros

“I hear they do a fine beans on toast”

A drop of cof­fee in the Drop Off

Si­mon Yates’s orig­i­nal red jersey looked like this

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