Simon Yates would be up for a return to the rescheduled Tour de France if it goes ahead this summer but for now the Lancastrian’s only wish is to ride his bike outside again.
The UCI this week unveiled an ambitious new-look calendar for the WorldTour, looking to squeeze over 100 days of racing into little more than three months if the coronavirus lockdowns ease sufficiently.
A proposed return at the start of August, with the Tour set to begin on the 29th, offers riders something to target almost three months after racing was suspended.
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Before the crisis began, Yates had planned to build his season around the Giro d’Italia – originally scheduled to begin this weekend but now set for October – and the Tokyo Olympics, but will now discuss his next steps with Mitchelton-Scott’s head sport director Matt White in the coming days.
The 27-year-old won two stages of the Tour last year, but has not targeted the general classification since 2017 – something that could now change.
“I don’t see why not,” Yates said. “I’m open to anything. I don’t have a preference anymore, I just want to get out there and race my bike, and if that’s the Tour that’s what it is.
“I’ve not had much chance to think about it. Right now I just want to get training on the road again.”
The Bury-born Yates is based in Andorra, where residents were only allowed to exercise outside again from the start of this week after more than two months in a strict lockdown.
While most people are not allowed to venture more than two kilometres from home, the 48 professional cyclists who live in the principality have been divided into two groups who can train on alternate days, but only on solo rides at allotted times on specified routes, and for no more than two hours.
Groups have been determined by where riders live, meaning Simon – based up above the ski resort of Canillo – is in the other set to his twin brother Adam, who lives further down the hill.
Yates has not been able to get out yet, but is hoping Friday can be the day.
“Just to ride outside again would be great,” he said. “If I’m honest, the rest of my life has not changed that much.
“I’ve been here with my girlfriend, enjoying time together which we otherwise wouldn’t get because I’d be away at training camps or racing, but the big thing has been that we can’t ride outside.
“Just to feel the wind on my face would be great.”
The 2018 Vuelta a Espana winner may not have been out on the road for several weeks, but he has certainly been keeping busy.
On Wednesday Yates raced a stage of Zwift’s Tour for All – in which pros are racing over five days as part of a month-long charitable venture – and has been using the online platform extensively to stay in shape.
“I tell you now it’s bloody hard,” Yates said. “It’s very intense racing on there and I’ve been getting involved not just with the Tour for All but lots of events on Zwift and with the community on there.
“They’ve been giving me a hard time, that’s for sure. Not to make any excuses but especially up here at altitude it’s hard work.”
Yates may not be in the shape he would have if he had been heading to the Giro this week, but said he had kept the weight off and his strength up.
Now he can only hope at least some of the UCI’s plans come to pass.
“I would like to get out and race and do my job,” he said. “But these are crazy times and nobody really knows what’s around the corner.”
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