The Brit has come out swinging in his debut for the team at the UAE Tour this week, putting in two gutsy rides that will remind team boss Dave Brailsford that he’s no second-tier talent in an Ineos Grenadiers team brimming with hitters.
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Yates threw the kitchen sink at a resilient and canny Tadej Pogačar through the finale of the Jebel Hafeet summit Tuesday, only to see the Tour de France champ punch past him in the closing kilometer. Two days earlier, the diminutive Grenadier marked his first race in team colors by muscling his way into the front echelon of stage 1 to position himself into the GC battle.
It’s a noisy team bus at Ineos Grenadiers, and the 28-year-old Yates has been quiet until now. With the return of Geraint Thomas, the uncertainty over Egan Bernal, and the attacking swagger of Tao Geoghegan Hart and Richard Carapaz, the Brit has been overshadowed in the media, and perhaps overlooked in the team.
Brailsford’s new signing wasn’t afforded a look at the higher prestige Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, and instead was handed the bittersweet pill of leadership at the Vuelta a España. Sure, it’s leadership, but it’s still six months away and lacks some of the heft of the other three-week races.
Yates doesn’t have the grand tour palmarès of the likes of Thomas or Carapaz, but what he does have is fight – and a lot of it.
From his breakout ride to the white jersey of “best young rider” at the 2016 Tour de France to his gutsy defense of the yellow jersey at the race four years later, Yates has proven he has the resilience, and this week in the UAE has been an A-grade display of the aggressive, attacking style that Brailsford plans to pivot toward in his continuing quest for grand tour dominance with Ineos Grenadiers.
Though Yates isn’t the honed time trial engine of Thomas, or a natural climber like Bernal, he perfectly fits Brailsford’s vision for Ineos Grenadiers V.2.
Yates’ schedule through 2021 has yet to be confirmed, though if he keeps going the way he’s started his season, the scrappy Lancastrian could cause Brailsford a welcome selection headache – particularly if Bernal’s recovery divebombs. He’s the lesser-known of the two Yates twins and the quiet shady presence at the back of the Ineos team bus.
But Adam Yates could be Brailsford’s new best buddy.