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Simon Yates finding Zwift racing "bloody hard" (but he has an excuse)

"Just to ride outside again would be great"...

2018 Vuelta a Espana winner Simon Yates says he is looking forward to returning to the road after enduring “a hard time” on Zwift.

Earlier this week, the UCI unveiled a new calendar for the 2020 season that President David Lappartient described as being “as realistic and coherent as possible.”

Yates said he was glad to have something to work towards – although he hasn’t yet decided which races he’ll do.

"No one has ever lived through a season like this," he told the BBC. "It's been difficult, but at the same time I'm just riding a bike for a living, there are more important things in life.

"And now we do actually have a calendar to look forward to where before we were just keeping fit in hope."

He describes the new season as “compact” and says he is open to riding the Tour de France, having initially planned to target the Giro d’Italia.

"I'm open to anything,” he said. “I don't have a preference any more. I just want to get out there and race my bike, and if that's the Tour, that's what it is.

"I've not had much chance to think about it. Right now I just want to get training on the road again."

Yates is based in Andorra, where residents were only allowed to exercise outside again from the start of this week.

"Just to ride outside again would be great," he said. "If I'm honest, the rest of my life has not changed that much.

"I've been here with my girlfriend, enjoying time together which we otherwise wouldn't get because I'd be away at training camps or racing, but the big thing has been that we can't ride outside.

"Just to feel the wind on my face would be great."

Like so many others, Yates has been competing on Zwift, but he argues his location has been proving something of a handicap.

"I tell you now it's bloody hard," he said. "It's very intense racing on there and I've been getting involved not just with the Tour for All but lots of events on Zwift and with the community on there.

"They've been giving me a hard time, that's for sure. Not to make any excuses but especially up here at altitude it's hard work."

Expanding on that, he said: "My general fitness is pretty good, considering we've been inside for seven or eight weeks.

"The Zwift races have been very tough because I'm 2,000m above sea level here, although they'd be very tough even if was back in the UK because it's just full gas.

"But I've actually really enjoyed it, it's been great to have something to get stuck into."

Perhaps surprisingly given how much it’s altered the shape of the pro season, Yates doesn’t feel that the lockdown period should have an enormous impact on who will perform well when racing recommences.

"Obviously there will be some guys won't have rode the turbo as much and there will be some who have done even more.

"But we have goals now and we are all professionals – we have enough time to get fit and ready for races. So you'll see the usual suspects competing for wins."

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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