Yates drops the Tour in chase of Olympic dream

BURY STAR WILL MISS SHOW­PIECE TO CON­CEN­TRATE ON WIN­NING GOLD IN TOKYO

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By IAN PARKER @MENS­ports

SI­MON Yates will build his 2020 sea­son around his child­hood dream of com­pet­ing at an Olympic Games, tar­get­ing the Giro d’Italia ear­lier in the year but then skip­ping the Tour de France to head to Japan.

The 27-year-old from Bury won two stages of the 2019 Tour but will not re­turn next sum­mer, with the race con­clud­ing in Paris on July 19, less than a week be­fore the Olympic road race on Mount Fuji on July 25.

The pro­gramme will also see Yates head to Italy in May for the Giro, a race in which he held the leader’s pink jersey for two weeks in 2018 but in which he suf­fered dis­ap­point­ment ear­lier this year.

“I’ve never been to an Olympics but when I was a kid, that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to be an Olympian,” Yates said. “It’s very mo­ti­vat­ing for me.

“I’ve not been out yet (to Japan), I’ve just seen the course on video so I would like to go out very early, and that’s a rea­son to go to the Giro. I can then go to Japan weeks in ad­vance and re­ally get a feel for the course and the cli­mate.”

The 2018 Giro was a break­through mo­ment for Yates. Though he cracked on stage 19 as Chris Froome stormed to vic­tory, the ex­pe­ri­ence proved valu­able as he won his first Grand Tour later in the year at the Vuelta a Es­pana.

The Mitchel­ton-Scott rider then went to Italy with high hopes this year, but suf­fered frus­tra­tion as he was un­able to im­pose him­self in the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion, fin­ish­ing eighth over­all with­out tak­ing a stage. Yates said there was a num­ber of rea­sons for his lack of form, but sug­gested key among them was a slower start to the sea­son.

“We have ideas on what went wrong, but you’re never 100 per cent sure,” Yates said of this year’s Giro. “I think a lot of it was just the build-up at the start of the year.

“In 2018, I went to ev­ery small stage race go­ing there to win and I went in with great form. In 2019, I used the same races as prepa­ra­tion.

“I went to Paris-Nice with not great form and came out a bit bet­ter, I went to Catalunya and worked for (twin brother) Adam, and I never got into the groove of rid­ing for GC and be­ing ag­gres­sive in those sit­u­a­tions.

“I’d re­ally like to start 2020 strong and get the ball rolling and go from there.”

Yates plans to do that by rid­ing the Aus­tralian sum­mer for the first time in his ca­reer - start­ing his sea­son at the Tour Down Un­der from Jan­uary 19-26.

“Maybe 2021 will be the year I go (back on the Tour de France). Hope­fully I can per­form at the level I ex­pect at the Giro, get the Olympics out of the way, then I can look to the Tour.”

Si­mon Yates

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