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Simon Yates looking to rediscover killer instinct for Giro d'Italia 2020

Joe Robinson
23 Dec 2019

Mitchelton-Scott rider wants to win Giro d'Italia and Olympics road race in 2020

Simon Yates will return to the Giro d’Italia in 2020 looking to rediscover the ‘killer instinct’ that he feels he was missing this season.

The Mitchelton-Scott rider burst onto the Grand Tour scene in 2018, leading the Giro for 13 stages and winning three stages before dramatically fading just two days before the end. He made amends, however, by winning the Vuelta a Espana later that year.

Yates started this season's Giro among the favourites yet failed to make the same impact as 12 months before, eventually finishing eighth overall without a stage win.

Looking back, the Lancastrian pinpoints his preparation for the race as one of the key problems that contributed to his underperformance and told Cyclist that he plans to reassess how he approaches the Giro for 2020 to avoid repeating the same mistakes. 

‘To pinpoint a single mistake is hard but one thing we are changing for 2020 is how I race in the build-up to the Giro,’ Yates told Cyclist.

‘Every race I rode before the Giro this year, I didn’t ride to win, I rode them to prepare whereas, in 2018, every race I entered I rode to win and rode aggressively.

‘This year I went to get form at Paris-Nice and then support Adam [Yates, his brother] at the Volta a Catalunya. I never raced to the death until the Giro which was a mistake. I missed that killer instinct, the difference between winning and losing.’

Further to his aggressive approach to the early season races, Yates will be also spending more time on the time-trial bike. Next year’s Giro will have three individual time-trials totalling 58.8km. The most decisive of the three should be Stage 14, a 33.7km rolling test through Prosecco country.

For Yates, it is here where the Maglia Rosa could be decided rather than in the high mountains stages to the Passo Stelvio and Sestriere. 

‘I’ve looked at the Giro route, not in forensic detail but enough to know it looks hard. The time-trials are longer than what I’ve done at a Giro before and could have more impact than the mountains,’ said Yates.

‘Look at the climbers these days, everyone is very similar. There’s not a huge difference, you make 20 seconds one day and then lose 10 seconds the next. Whereas in a TT, you can lose minutes and I’ve seen it happen to me. I’m getting better at TTs every year – I even won one last year. 

While the Giro will represent Yates’s biggest ambition for 2020, the 27-year-old also has half an eye on the Tokyo Olympics road race in August. He is yet to fully assess the route but harbours personal ambitions of becoming an Olympian.

He also believes that the break between the Giro in May and the Olympics road race in August allows sufficient time for him to peak for both races, something he admits he would not be able to do by racing the Tour de France in July.

‘For me, the gap between the Tour and the Olympics is too short. Personally, I’d need to get used to the time difference and climate and If I’m going to the Olympics, I’m going to win,’ said Yates.

‘Obviously, the biggest thing is getting picked as part of that four-man team first, which will be tough with the riders we have to pick from. That’s first, getting a spot. But if I’m there, I’m going early to get used to the climate and give it a proper crack. 

Dreams of pink at the Giro and gold at the Olympics, however, will simmer in the background temporarily. Yates is currently enjoying a short break back home in Bury for the Christmas period before jetting out to Australia before New Years to begin preparing for the Tour Down Under in January.

While the home comforts up north around Christmas are to be enjoyed, Yates is happy that his return home is just a flying visit.

‘I’ve just come from a training camp in the sunshine of Gran Canaria to the rain and cold of the north. I sometimes ride on Christmas day but this year I’m giving myself the day off unless I go for an easy one with my dad,’ said Yates.

‘Coming home to 2 degrees and rain can be a nice piece of reality but luckily I don’t have to do it too often.'