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Simon Yates believes three Grand Tour in 71 days will have a 'big effect' on racing

Joe Robinson
7 May 2020

The Mitchelton-Scott rider is having to reconsider his goals for 2020 with the new race calendar

Simon Yates believes the revised race calendar which will see all three Grand Tours take place in just 71 days and 41 races in four months will have a 'big effect' on the peloton and lead to 'impossible' situations for teams.

The UCI announced its updated race calendar on 5th May, outlining its intention to reschedule all three Grand Tours and all five Monuments for between August and November.

This saw plenty of overlap, not least the clashing of Stage 21 of the Giro d'Italia, Stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana and Paris-Roubaix all on Sunday 25th October.

Running three big races on one day has been met with criticism and Yates believes, from a rider's perspective, that the short turn around will have a big impact on who is winning the races.

'It’s going to be very intense, there is no hiding from that,' Yates said in a Zoom meeting with a selection of journalists.

'Usually, the Grand Tours are physical enough on their own and normally I ride Giro and Vuelta in one programme, having months to recover but I don’t this year. It could have a big effect, depending on how the other riders have been going.'

Beyond how the riders will be feeling, the 2018 Vuelta champion is also concerned with how these multiple clashes will be dealt with by team managers and staff, particularly teams like Mitchelton-Scott which have lesser resources compared to the likes of Team Ineos.

'We are a small team in the low 20s rider-wise so spreading across three races will be a challenge, whereas other teams will be fine. However, the hardest thing will be balancing staff across the world at three races all happening at the same time, it'll be impossible in some cases and very challenging.'

Yates was originally scheduled to target the Giro. The Bury-born rider has tasted success and defeat in Italy, not least the 2018 edition of the race where he won four stages and led overall for 12 days before falling down the General Classification to finish 21st.

However, with its rescheduling and, more importantly, the postponement of the Toyko Olympics until 2021, Yates may be forced into reassessing his season's goals.

'It is all up in the air at the moment. I haven’t had the discussion with Matt White (team manager) and the team yet to really lay out the rest of the year. It is going to be a very intense period with so many races packed together,' admitted Yates.

'I need to have this conversation now. The original reason I was going back to the Giro was that I wanted to race the Olympics in August and I believed that was the best preparation, to have a big block of racing in May then travel to Tokyo early to prepare early. With the Olympics being pushed back, it changes things.'

Yates is currently living in Andorra where restrictions on riding outdoors have only been lifted in the last week but remain very strict.

Currently, professional riders are only allowed to cycle outside every other day. Alongside that, they are only permitted to ride on one allocated stretch of road for a two-hour block with a support car ready to supply medical assistance.

This has put Yates off riding outdoors, with him so far rejecting the chance to do so.

Instead, he has stuck to the turbo trainer and online training app Zwift, something he actually quite enjoys and a tool he believes will have him raring to go once racing eventually resumes.

'I think my general fitness is really good. If you ride four hours indoors, you are on the pedals for the entire time. Ride for four hours outside and you have descents, you stop, it's not as intense. Plus, growing up in the UK, I accepted riding indoors a long time ago,' joked Yates.

'I’ve got really involved with the online racing. I used Zwift a lot anyway but only to ride, I’m enjoying the racing though. They are very intense and you need to turn up ready otherwise you’ll be dropped. It's a good distraction from not racing properly and I'm certainly in great condition because of it.'