Who Is Simon Yates? The Biker From Bury Shining Brightly At The Tour De France

Who Is Simon Yates? The Biker From Bury Shining Brightly At The Tour De France
11:59, 22 Jul 2019

Bradley Wiggins sealed his place in the pantheon of cycling greats in 2012 after he became the first British rider to win the sport’s showcase spectacle: The Tour de France. 

The victory marked a watershed moment in British cycling history.

Just a year later Chris Froome made it back-to-back British successes in the 100th staging of the Tour de France, and has since added three more yellow jerseys to his collection, while last year the 2011 Vuelta a España winner completed the Grand Tour set in winning the Giro d’Italia. 

2018 also saw Geraint Thomas shine in the cycling spotlight. The two-time Olympic Gold medallist became the third Briton in eight years to win the most prestigious stage race in cycling, and is currently bidding to defend the yellow jersey; he’s second in the standings and 1minute 35seconds behind surprise leader Julian Alaphilippe.

But from a British perspective Thomas has been somewhat overshadowed by another Briton: Simon Yates.

Yates, who came to France to support his twin brother Adam’s pursuit of overall glory as part of team Mitchelton-Scott, is not in contention in the General Classification but he’s bagged plenty of plaudits over the last few days after winning two of the last four stages (12 and 15). 

Thursday’s success, which saw him orchestrate a perfectly timed sprint to edge out Pello Bilbao and Gregor Muhlberger, was his maiden Tour de France win and meant that he’s now carded stage victories at all three Grand Tours, having previously tasted success at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. On Sunday, the tactically astute Yates repeated Thursday's feat, storming clear with 8.6km left to seal a superb win in difficult conditions on the gruelling Prat d'Albis.

“I’ve come here with such a different mentality,” Yates revealed after crossing the finish line on Sunday.

“I’ve not come here with any ambition for GC whatsoever and I’m very relaxed and going about it how I want and racing the way I want, which is being quite aggressive and I enjoy that."

It’s been a remarkable rise up the cycling ranks for the Bury-born cyclist who in 2016 was banned for four months after he tested positive for terbutaline. Yates was prescribed the medication for his asthma but his team doctor made an administration error after he failed to file a certificate for use of the drug. 

The suspension meant Yates missed the 2016 edition of the Tour de France, but returned to finish 6th in the Vuelta a España, then 7th at the 2017 Tour de France where he won the coveted white jersey - awarded to the best young rider. 

Last year Yates led the Giro d’Italia from Stage 6 to 18, only to crack in the final few stages and fall to 21st. However, he bounced back to become the second British cyclist to win the Vuelta a España, which completed a clean sweep of British Grand Tour winners in 2018; after Froome won the aforementioned Giro d’Italia, and Thomas triumphed in the Tour de France. 

At the time of writing, nine of the last 21 Grand Tour winners have hailed from Britain, something Thomas will still be hopeful of propelling to 10 in 22 Tours, while Yates will have his sights set on a third stage success by the time the Tour de France climaxes at the Champs-Élysées on Sunday. That’s something you’d back him to conjure up this week considering that his brother’s chances of a podium finish have been extinguished following a tough few days in the Pyrenees.

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