Simon Yates has today been named among the nine riders who will line up for Orica-GreenEdge at the start of the Tour de France in Leeds on Saturday, making him the only rider in the race who was born in England.
It had been thought that the 21-year-old from Bury, riding his first season as a professional with the Australian WorldTour team which he joined with his twin brother Adam, would miss the race because its management did not want to expose either of the pair to the demands of the race at such an early point in their careers.
Yates came to the attention of a number of top teams last year after winning the world championship in the points race on the track and clinching a stage of the Tour of Britain in September, ending that race third overall.
After joining Orica-GreenEdge for 2014, he sustained a broken collarbone at the Tour of Turkey in April, where his brother won the overall.
On his return to racing last month, he finished seventh overall at the Tour of Slovenia, winning the best young rider’s contest and rode strongly at Sunday’s national road championships to finish third the Team Sky pair of Peter Kennaugh and Ben Swift.
Orica-GreenEdge sports director Matt White revealed that it was his enforced absence through injury that led to the team deciding to rethink its initial decision not to take either of the Yates siblings to the Tour.
He said: "Simon has certainly achieved a lot more than we would have imagined up to this point.
“It wasn't the plan to bring him into the roster for the Tour de France, but for what we want to achieve as a team, he’s a great fit.
“It is no secret that we are targeting the intermediate mountain stages, and Simon has shown in his results throughout the year that he is more than capable of great results."
White added: "Simon’s inclusion begs the question of Adam’s exclusion. Simon’s broken collarbone in the Tour of Turkey has been a blessing in disguise.
“One of the reasons Adam is not going is because he has been racing and on very good condition since January. It wouldn't be a wise decision for us to send Adam. With Simon’s forced break due to injury, he’s fresh and ready to race.”
The team will be led by Simon Gerrans, who wore the yellow jersey during last year’s 100th edition of the race, and three other riders who participated for Orica-GreenEdge will join the Australian champion – Svein Tuft, Simon Clarke and Michael Albasini.
Four riders besides Yates make their Tour de France debuts: Michael Matthews, who impressed while leading the Giro d’Italia in May, where he took a stage win; Jens Keukeleire; Luke Durbridge; and Mat Hayman, who turned 36 in April, and therefore takes the record set by Tuft last year for the oldest debutant in the history of the race.
Together with defending champion Chris Froome and Sky team mate Geraint Thomas plus Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish, Yates will be one of just four British riders in the race – the joint lowest total since 2008 if you ignore the fact that Froome, holder of a British passport at the time, was still then racing under a Kenyan licence.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.