Yates drops the Tour in chase of Olympic dream
BURY STAR WILL MISS SHOWPIECE TO CONCENTRATE ON WINNING GOLD IN TOKYO
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.”