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Tour de France

Simon Yates’ Tour de France start dependant on knee recovery as contract talks progress

There's a question mark over Michael Matthews's future at BikeExchange-Jayco with talks set to take place after the Tour de France.

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Simon Yates’ possible participation in the Tour de France is uncertain with BikeExchange-Jayco set to make a final decision within the next week.

The British climber abandoned the Giro d’Italia after a crash wrecked his GC ambitions. He still came away with two stage wins but the knee issues have resulted in a dip in training as he battles back to full fitness.

Meanwhile, the rider’s contract negotiations are moving in the right direction according to the team management.

“We’re still discussing Simon’s future,” BikeExchange-Jayco general manager Brent Copeland told VeloNews.

“It seems that there’s a mutual interest in continuing. We just have to get down to the details and conditions. We’re looking at having that all wrapped up before the Tour de France. Once Simon is locked in we can work on the direction with the rest of the market. With us, and Simon, there’s a mutual interest to continue.

“We believe Simon has a very good future ahead of him and he has been a part of this team for years and we are interested to continue building that good relationship we have.”

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Whether Yates heads to the Tour to target stage wins or the Vuelta a España to mount a GC bid remains in the balance. His knee injury has still not entirely recovered and the team wants to give their star rider as much time as possible before making a decision.

There are a number of factors in play, not least Yates’s health but also the team’s need to seek ranking points in order to secure their WorldTour future.

“It’s still an ongoing discussion,” added Copeland.

“We have to see how his knee recovers and then make a decision from there. No final decision has been made. It’s difficult to say where things will go because on the one hand you’ve got the points system to weigh in and then you’ve got the visibility that you get at the Tour. At the Tour of Poland you get good points but by next week we will have decided.

“If his knee has recovered then he will go to the Tour but he needs to be convinced that it’s 100 percent and right now he’s not done a lot of training since he stopped in the Giro. If he goes it’s for stage wins and not GC so he could always ride himself into condition for the back-end of the Tour.”

Question marks over Matthews

(Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

While Yates’ future at the team is moving in the right direction, the status around Michael Matthews is a little harder to predict.

The Australian moved back to the squad at the start of 2021 after four years at Team Sunweb. However the 31-year-old has only taken one win in that time and despite numerous placings hasn’t delivered on his or the team’s expectations.

He signed a sizeable contract when rejoining the team and it’s fair to say that the squad is looking at its options at this point. There is interest on the market for Matthews too, so talks of a contract extension are currently being moved to after the Tour de France. There is interest from the team for Matthews to stay but it would have be on different terms.

“There’s still a question mark there with Michael. It’s a tough one because both himself as well as ourselves would have loved him to have delivered more in the last two years. It just hasn’t been the case. He’s on a big contract and we’re still discussing it and we’ll make a decision after the Tour de France,” Copeland said.

“There is interest for him to stay as it’s always a pleasure working with Michael but we also have to look at the facts which is he has only delivered one win in the past two seasons, so we have to be realistic and fair from both parties and we definitely hope he can produce some good results in the second half of the season then we have to look at the conditions and see how we can work it.”