News: Chat with Sean Yates

Chat with former yellow jersey in the Tour de France, Sean Yates who’s back coaching at trainSharp and recovering from an accident

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News: Chat with Sean Yates

Back before lottery funding and the steady stream of top pros that we now see challenging in the pro races in Europe, there were the riders like Sean Yates who made their own way to the top echelons of the sport.

Since retiring from pedalling in the pro races, Sean has also been a DS in World Tour teams such as Sky and Tinkoff and also uses the vast amount of experience he has to coach those with ambition who go to trainSharp who help them fulfil their potential.

Sean and Jesse 

A few months ago though, Sean Yates suffered an accident whilst doing some work 20 feet up a tree, a fall that could have killed him. It was certainly pretty bad and saw him in hospital. But, as anyone who knows Sean, he’s one tough bugger and is already getting back on his feet and was at the Perfs with son Jesse.

The Perfs is a race that Sean won as an 18 year old back in 1979. In his book “Sean Yates: It’s all about the Bike”, he says “I started 1979 with a bit of a bang when I won the first big time trial of the year, the North Road Hard Riders, but the one that got me noticed was a win at the Perfs Pedal in Hampshire, the traditional season opening road race”.

“I broke away over the hilly downland course with another ‘tester’, Nick Frewin from Bournemouth and then outsprinted him a couple of minutes before the bunch arrived.” It was, he says, his last outing in the Archer RC colours before going to ride with the late Tim Stevens at the 34 Nomads who is also a Perfs winner.

Fast forward to 2017, as he sat pinning Jesse’s numbers onto the race jersey, ahead of what proved to be a storming race for his lad, Sean explained how the level at the race has gone up since his days racing it. “There are more guys in the South East who are strong and serious about their cycling. You only have to look around at their nice bikes on the turbo trainers to see in general the level has gone up”.

Despite being the first race of the season, it’s never one riders can underestimate Sean adds, saying there will always be riders who are well up for it. “Everyone knows it’s going to be hard” says Sean.

It’s also an event that has the respect of most fans in the sport. “It’s a classic that has been going a long long time” says Sean. “Tony Mills won the first one edition, some one who’s helped me and Jesse over the years. You only have to look at the winners list and they are all quality and that speaks for itself”.

Sean admits that his recent accident is the biggest he’s had to recover from time wise but still hopes to be up and about fully by May. In the meantime, he’s keeping busy with the coaching. As well as Jesse, Sean has quite a varied client base keeping him busy at trainSharp with men and women and even a lady who’s doing the London-Edinburgh-London race (Sun 30th July to Fri 4th August) as well as the National 12 hour time trial championship.

Our chat soon turned to the pro scene which last year Sean was fully immersed in when a DS at Tinkoff with the likes of Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador. Asked for his observations of what he’s seen so far, he says “Quintana is looking very strong and Valverde too after he won Mercia with a 70 k solo break on his own”.

Mercia is one of many races at this time of the year where the stars of the peloton are warming up for the big classics. Not just the single day ones but others too like the stage race, Paris-Nice.

“That should be exciting” says Sean. “I watch all the races as soon as I can and the Tour Down Under was exciting. Richie Porte was flying and I hope this year he can make the most of his talent in a Grand Tour. He has the capability to do well.”

“The sport needs guys like that to challenge Froome who in the last few editions of the Tour (de France) has had his own way with a super strong team. Ultimately though, if he didn’t have the legs, he wouldn’t win the race so credit where it’s due”.

Asked how seriously the pros take these early season races, Sean replied “Seriously. Alberto (Contador) does not go to a race without wanting to win. He is such a natural bike rider he can turn up without many kilometres in his legs and still and blow the rest away in the training camp. Esteban Chaves too is an exciting prospect and it would be good to see him at the Tour de France as well”.

And the Spring Classics? “Peter Sagan is training like he did last year in Sierra Nevada and with Fabian gone from the peloton, I expect to see Peter battling with Greg van Avermaet and Quickstep as well who have a great tradition in the classics. Peter isn’t unbeatable as we’ve seen but in the Tour Down Under he was already in good form and is such a beast. With a new team, there will be extra motivation and push come to shove, he’s the one to beat for sure”.

Finally, when asked which races he’s looking forward to on TV, Sean unsurprisingly says “all of them”. The Tour de France is the big one though for Sean and there are two stages he is looking forward to seeing.

The race to “La planche des belles filles” where Bradley Wiggins took the yellow jersey and also the mighty Izoard which comes on the penultimate day of the race and could see the GC changes as the battle goes down to the wire. They are roads Sean knows well, as are most in the classics of today and when he’s not helping riders be the best they can be at trainSharp, Sean will be watching the riders he knows so well after all his time at the top with an insight we can only dream of …. Thanks to Sean for the cat. Great as always.




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