Feature: Adam Yates Pro career starts here


Over in Argentina, North West rider Adam Yates has begun his pro career in the Tour de San Luis and on terrain that suits the 58 kilo rider, he’s still in the Young rider’s jersey as of stage 4.

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A pretty ‘bloody’ impressive start to a rider who just wanted to start racing I think everyone will agree. Training was becoming a ‘pain in the ass’ apparently and when VeloUK spoke to Adam after he’d signed for Orica-GreenEdge, I got the feeling that going pro was not as big a step as many of us felt it would be.


The brother Yates, Left Simon and Adam.

And so it has proved. On stage 4 of the Tour de San Luis, Adam was 10th on the stage won by the rider who was second in the Tour de France last year, Nairo Quintana. After a few weeks in Manchester training on roads used by the Tour de France next year, Adam showed he can climb well. Very bloody well!

His team’s website explains how while Quintana was ripping up the roads on his home continent, neo-pro Adam rode the climb at his own pace crossing the finish line in tenth place, just over three minutes behind the Colombian climbing sensation.

Following the hot days racing, and a visit to the podium for the Young rider’s jersey which he leads by almost three minutes, Yates began the long transfer back to the team hotel. Asked about the stage Adam explained “It was pretty flat for most of the day. It wasn’t really windy but every now again, it picked up – some crosswind – so they (his teammates) looked after us the most at those times to make sure we were comfortable.”

Orica GreenEDGE Men's Team Portraits

As with many mountain top finishes, the climbers will leave making their moves to that last climb, and so it proved. “It’s funny” says Adam. “It was essentially just one big climb. Straight after the cat three, there was the littlest descent and then it went straight up again. The break was only allowed four or five minutes, not much more and just before the bottom of the climb, they were brought back.”

It was really hot again in the race being ridden in a Argentinian summer which says Adam, may have had a little impact on the early action. Asked by the team what his strategy was, Adam replied “I didn’t have a strategy! We’re not really targeting the overall. We’re just taking our chances as they come.”

“We just wanted to hold on really. There are some pretty good climbers here and some local guys going quite well. Typically on a climb like this, it’s every man for himself. We can help each other now and again, but it’s hard to do that much on this type of climb. You have to go at it at your own pace”.

Talking about the climbing and how it compared to Europe which after over two years in France, Adam is familiar with, he says “it’s pretty similar. The biggest difference is that there are a lot of guys here that aren’t going full gas yet. They’re still holding back or not in top form. Other than that, there’s not really much of a difference.”

Rating his ride which saw him ride clear of his closest challenger in the Young rider competition, Adam says “I didn’t feel great at the bottom of the climb. It felt like it rose quite sharply. After that I was going ok. Nobody could match Quintana. It was a big gap but I can’t complain. It’s January and we didn’t come in with big ambitions. I’m happy enough with my ride.”

2013_RideLondonClassic_Adam Yates

An example of how relaxed the team are taking the race is that for the time trial, most of the riders in Orica-GreenEdge won’t have specific TT bikes. “I’m on my road bike tomorrow but I’ll give it a crack, but I’m already at a bit of a disadvantage.” Adam is currently 12th overall.

No Surprise
This performance from the young Brit should not come as a surprise. Or at least it didn’t to me after looking into what he’d done in Europe away from the spotlight. Adam explained in an interview with VeloUK that some of the French races he was doing all season in 2013 were harder than UCI ones.

By way of example, Adam drew a comparison to the UCI 1.1 Ride London Classic where he was in the mix in the closing stages as was his brother Simon,showing that the level of racing he was moving towards was well within his capabilities.

At the time we spoke, Adam said there were little or no nerves heading into a season with a WorldTour team. “Last year when I joined CC Etupes, I was really nervous. I knew I could ride at a certain level but I was there to win and perform. But the first year with Orica-GreenEdge, I don’t feel under pressure and it’s about learning”.

After their first team training camp in Australia, a first trip for Adam Down Under, Adam and his twin brother Simon have been preparing for the new season in Manchester. First to escape the dreadful weather was Adam with selection for the Tour de San Luis and with a top high overall position already, he’s showing that when it comes to the hilly, mountainous stage races, he’s up there already.

Adam and Simon spent three weeks in Australia around the same time I did although our paths never crossed despite me being only 100 miles away. Must plan my trips better! The training was fun for the twins and backed up something Adam said to me in Manchester and that was the team (Orica GreenEdge) are a lot of fun to be with.

As well as staring in a video by the team, check it out below, they also got in some miles training through vine yards before some testing at the AIS base in Canberra and then more miles in the hills around Canberra.



Adam shows his frustation in Ride London as a group goes clear coming into London but is clearly messing around

Team Video

It is a far cry from the days I watched Adam and his brother racing in the Junior National Series, spending more time trying to work out who was who as they are more alike than any cycling brothers I’ve come across.

For Adam, signing for Orica-GreenEdge is the big break. “It’s finally a chance to show myself. All the years slugging away not hitting the big time and now I have a new start. If I had stayed in England, I’d be at University now.”

“There’s not a lot of chance (to go Pro) just doing six big races a year and training all year in the rain; it’s pretty hard trying to make it staying here. It would have been much more of a commitment staying here than it was going to France in way.”

Adam told me he expects the first year with the Aussie team will be about learning and finding his place in the peloton. The long term goal is to see how he develops as a rider and then choose the goals to chase from there.

Adam explained how in the future, he’d like to win races like Liege-Bastogne-Liege or the Tour of Lombardy; Monuments in cycling history. Or, stage races, smaller ones perhaps or Grand Tours. It is though about doing it one step at a time.

“Two years ago, I didn’t really specialise in anything” he told Ride magazine. “But this year I really trained for it and I guess it shows. That’s what I’m best at. I weigh around 58 kilograms and I’m not very tall.”

When it comes to winning a classic like Liege, Adam has already had a taste. Asked for highlights from 2013, there were the obvious ones like the 1-2 with brother Simon in the ‘Avenier’ but 12th in the Under 23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege was another. It was the first big Under 23 UCI race that he did with decent climbs.



Adam racing in his French team colours in Glasgow at the British road champs.

“I thought I had top ten at the time” Adam explained. “When it was kicking off on the climbs, I was right in there and one of the strongest, and as it was one of the bigger races on the under 23 calendar, I thought ‘bloody hell, I’m doing okay here’.”

Okay indeed. It was all a far cry from when they got into the sport influenced by their father who raced. The twins went to see their dad race and thought they’d give it a go. From falling off during his first time on the Manchester track, Adam progressed over the years helped by GB development programmes like the Talent Team and Olympic Development Programme.

From a mainly track based programme, the twins moved onto the road but when it came to being selected for the GB Academy, the selectors overlooked Adam, perhaps because of a track bias of the programme at that time.

Working for the GB team for many years, the GB Academy has never really settled into a set focus. There was a period when a group of Brits were sent to Nantes 44 in France to race with some success and then Rod Ellingworth came up with his blueprint in 2004 which was very successful. It went from a track bias to having both road and track riders in the squad.

Ellingworth left for Team Sky and the programme since then has been all over the place. In an interview with Australian cycling magaxine Ride, Adam has his say on how he sees the GB emphasis. When asked if the culture has changed in Britain with less emphasis on track, Adam replied “No, not at all. It’s probably going even more towards the track now. As far as we know, the academy that Simon was on will have even less numbers now and it will be more track focussed.”

“It’s a bit of a surprise really considering the success but I’m guessing it’s because that’s where the funding goes to.”

Not being selected for the Academy was a blow for Adam and thoughts of ‘bloody ‘ell, what do I do now’ filled his head followed by a phone call to NFTO rider Josh Hunt who spent some years racing in France and Belgium. Adam started out with UVCA Troyes, dipping his toe in the French scene for three months before two years followed.

A lot of success followed. In 2012, at least twelve top threes in French races including two wins can be seen on some French websites and Adam said that the racing was tough with at least 60 riders in one race all capable of winning. His success led to him going to CC Etupes for 2013 and again, the CV is impressive and much more than just the success at Avenier which drew so much attention.

(from Cycling Archives)
8 in Paris – Troyes, France
3 in Stage 4 Arden Challenge, Bertrix (Luxembourg), Belgium
3 in Sentheim, France
1 in Stage 3 Tour de Franche Comté Cycliste, Nozeroy (Franche-Comte), France
3 in General Classification Tour de Franche Comté Cycliste, France
2 in Stage 6 Tour Alsace, Cernay (Alsace), France
2 in Soultz-sous-Forêts, France
3 in Stage 4 Tour de l’Avenir, Saint-François-Longchamp (Rhone-Alpes), France
2 in Stage 5 Tour de l’Avenir, Morzine (Rhone-Alpes), France
3 in Stage 7 Tour de l’Avenir, Plateau des Glières (Rhone-Alpes), France
2 in General Classification Tour de l’Avenir, France

It was though the success at l’Avenir that got the phone calls coming. “It was a bit of shock as I thought it would be something that happened next year” Adam explained. “I’d had some good results and then it got better at l’Avenir.”

Calls were coming mainly from WorldTour teams and that was a big confidence boost says Adam.
“I could not believe it. I was talking with a lot of teammates and they saying ‘you’re turning pro, you’re turning pro,’ and I was like, no, I’ve only done one good race and then the phone calls started.”


Adam leads brother Simon in the peloton on stage 4 of the Tour of Britain

“When Orica-Greenedge contacted us we knew it was the better one. They’re English speaking and fun to be with which is good as I enjoy a good laugh and not to be too serious. The banter is really great. Shayne Bannan (team principle) reassured me personally what it was about and the progression plan and what we’d do in the future.”

The rest to quote a cliché is history. Adam and brother Simon signed for two years and listening to them that big break came about because of in the main, one race – l’Avenir.”

“I always knew I had the potential but was never sure of myself” Adam says. “In my head, I knew I had the potential to win that race. I train with a power metre and the numbers I do, I’d show people and was told ‘that is good’ and so I knew I had the ability to perform. It was just a matter of getting it out in a race.”

Adam was riding for a team called CC Etupes which he explained was very professional. “There was this big old guy who would come round and anything we needed, he would sort it. We had an apartment and an allowance for food and stuff and I was helped out by the Dave Rayner fund. I was living the dream; training, racing, eating and sleeping.”

“Once I was out there (North Eastern France near Swiss border), I was focused and it was train, train, train.” Was the language a problem I asked? “When I arrived this year, I went to a party where I was real awkward as they were all speaking French and I didn’t have a clue what was going on! After a while I learnt I bit. It’s not that I don’t know French, more I can’t speak it fluent. I can understand a lot but many speak English as well so that helps.

The first part of the year didn’t go well as Adam explained. “Early in the year, there were a few races with mountains but I kept getting sick, food poising or crashing. As the year progressed though, things started to come together. For example, he’d done a race in a similar area to where l’Avenir was going to be and that he explained was useful.

Not so much for the climbs because as he says, in a race you’re following the action on the slopes but more the roads before the climbs when he’d know he had to move up. Then, brother Simon came over and it was here that Adam topped up his form and Simon moved his on from where it was at having been in England.

When Adam talks about having been doing some decent numbers and others having told him they were good, he’s talking about 6.2 or 6.3 watts per kilo. “It’s only this year that I got a power meter” he explained to Ride.

“I’d only had a PowerTap but I couldn’t really use that in racing. It’s definitely made a difference, not really in performance but in training. I feel like I’ve got much more of a goal, something to look at. But I used to just go out and go as hard as I could for as long as I could – there was no structure there. I’d say that, after this year, I’d like to work with power much more.”

“When Simon came over and stayed in a hotel round the corner, we were out doing five hours every day going up some massive climbs. That final week was great and Simon came out of it with great form. I was already going quite well and just topped it up. In the race, Simon won two stages but his form wasn’t quite there but then in the Tour of Britain, it was when he won a stage (Haytor).


Early on in l’Avenir, Adam got an inkling the form was good. “After the first stage on the Col de la Madeleine, the first mountain stage (4), I came third and found it was more tempo than hard and I thought bloody hell, I’m going well here.”

Adam says while the 1-2 for the Yates brothers was awesome, it was the last stage where he felt he performed the best. “I can’t believe I didn’t get rid of him to be honest” he says talking about the overall winner Fernandez from Spain.

“There were two out front including the world champion, and then the four of us and I just kept hitting him every K or so and he was sitting there well hard. I couldn’t believe he was staying with us to be honest. I got a few seconds (8) but tried so hard to win overall”.

Win or not, second at l’Avenir started the ball rolling for that big break into the Pro ranks and Adam had succeeded in doing what many others before him had done, riders like Adam Blythe, Dan Martin and so many more, which is you can get a pro contract without the help of British Cycling.

Adam in parting says “I enjoyed myself over there in France and learning about myself.” He adds that not much is going to change as he was kind of a full time rider in France and riding like a professional. It will be a step up but as Adam is showing in Argentina, its not the big leap it can be.

The latest news from San Luis backs up Orica-GreenEdge’s faith in a rider who admits that his strength is climbing and the fact he was the first Orica rider home will do his chances in other races no harm.

Congrats to Adam and all the best for 2014



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