Tour de France 2020

Orica-GreenEdge DS Matt White talks Yates twins prior to Tour team selection

Orica-GreenEdge sports director remains tight-lipped about Tuesday’s Tour team selection, but British Yates brothers are in the mix

SYDNEY — The Yates twins have been on a tear as of late. The British brothers, Adam and Simon, have been racking up results en route to a potential Orica-GreenEdge squad selection for the Tour de France starting July 4.

Team sport director Matt White remains tight-lipped on the final roster spots, other than admitting to VeloNews that last year’s Tour rider Christian Meier and this year’s Giro d’Italia standout Esteban Chaves were both home in preparation for the Vuelta a España in August, and that “there also won’t be so many Australians” this year. However, when pressed on whether or not the Yates would be selected, he did admit that they were both on the short list.

“The Yates brothers are definitely factoring in to the team we are taking to the Tour de France that’s for sure,” White told VeloNews from his home in Spain on Wednesday afternoon.

While Adam has spent much of the spring recovering from surgery after suffering a broken finger at the Tour of the Basque Country, the 22-year-old joined Simon at the Critérium du Dauphiné and finished third in the young riders’ classification.

Meanwhile, Simon has been recording results all season, most notably a sixth place finish on general classification at Tour de Romandie, second in the youth classification, and fifth at Dauphiné — two spots above his brother in the young riders’ classification.

“They’re in a good place at the moment,” said White. “Simon is obviously coming off a very good run of form from basically all of spring, and then had a little bit of success in Romandie and a very strong Dauphiné a week ago.

“Adam has come from a little bit different preparation,” White continued. “He broke his finger in that big crash in April and that needed surgery and time to heal, so he is a bit behind Simon at the moment but that’s taking in to account that the Tour de France doesn’t start for a little while and the road doesn’t go uphill anytime soon.”

While selection would mean Adam’s first time at the Tour, Simon raced there last year before being pulled two weeks in, after the second rest day.

“We took Simon to the Tour last year and deliberately sent him home after two weeks because we didn’t want to cook him,” explained White. “It was about giving him the experience at the Tour, and he has progressed a lot since then.”

Even before their successful start to this year’s UCI WorldTour season, both Yates had already caught the attention of many after their noteworthy neo-pro debuts.

In their rookie season on the road, Adam finished 11th in his first professional race, the Tour de San Luis, and claimed the best young rider classification. From there, he went on to win a stage and the overall at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, a race in which Simon suffered a broken collarbone on stage 3.

Adam would then go on to pad his palmerés at both the Amgen Tour of California (fifth overall, second youth, eighth mountains) and the Critérium du Dauphiné (sixth overall, eighth points, third youth) before being selected to race the Vuelta.

During that same span, Simon, a 2013 points race world track champion, finished 12th in his first race, the Tour of the Basque Country, and rebounded from his injury in Turkey to take third at the national road race championships and seventh at the Tour of Slovenia, as well as the race’s best young rider classification.

White told VeloNews during the team launch late last year that he was a bit concerned about fielding the youngest team in the peloton in 2014, but that he was a lot more relaxed heading into 2015 with the rapid development of the Yates twins.

“I did underestimate them and I did not expect those sorts of results and the ability from [then] 21-year-olds,” said White back in November. “To do what they did in certain races they are the real deal and that young kids can do big things.”

Fast-forward eight months and both brothers are looking at potential Tour selection next Tuesday, June 30, in London.

“They give us something we’ve never had in this organization at a grand tour, and that are guys that can win high mountain stages,” admitted White. “We’ve been pretty realistic at what we can achieve at the Tour in the past and that’s been flat stages, intermediate stages and team time trials. But if both of them do get selected they will be certainly giving us a lot of options in the second half of the tour.”

According to White, while it is easy to often group them together, the Yates are sometimes at their best when they are kept apart.

“It’s unfair to pigeonhole them together as one unit — the Yates brothers — but they are two individuals,” explained White. “If you look, we don’t race them that often together. I think the first tour they did together this year was Dauphiné.

“We deliberately have them split up,” he continued. “If we have them split up it gives us two options of winning — one in either program — whereas if we put them together it can be a one-two punch.

“What they give us are different options to win, and they’re not afraid to sticking it to the biggest riders on the planet at the moment.”

As for one last attempt to pry a name or two out of White prior to the team’s official roll call next week, he would only say, “The team we are going to name for the Tour de France in the next couple of days will be the most well-rounded and balanced teams we’ve ever sent to a grand tour.”

Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews