Yates was involved in a mass crash on stage 13 of the Tour when the peloton struck an unmarked section of gravel on a descent. He wasn’t the only runner to leave the race that day in an ambulance and it briefly looked like his Olympic chances were on the line.Luckily for the former Vuelta a España winner, he only had superficial injuries and, although obviously painful, he was able to make it to Tokyo.
On Saturday he will be part of a four-man squad in the men’s road race that includes his brother Adam Yates, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Geraint Thomas as they seek to secure Britain’s first men’s road medal at the Olympic Games since Max Sciandri’s bronze in Atlanta in 1996.
“We know pretty much the entire course and are looking forward to racing now. It will be difficult to win and it will be a very selective course, ”said Simon Yates when asked about the 234 kilometer course he has covered. and his teammates will face off this weekend.
“It’s hot and humid. It will be a little cooler on race day but it will still be difficult and it will be about managing these things, putting them together and trying to be successful towards the end of the race. “
There are three Grand Tour winners in the squad, but their one-day pedigree is not quite at the same level. Most of the riders involved have enjoyed a day’s success in the pro ranks, but Yates knows the environment they will face in Saturday’s road race is completely different.
“As riders on the team we have a very good chance, but it’s about bringing those pieces together,” he said. “A stage race is different from a one-day race and there are nations [that] have more experience than us when it comes to winning a bigger stage in a one day race, but we’ll see how it goes and go from there. We have a strong team and we will try anyway. We will do our best, ”he said.
Yates also reiterated Thomas’ earlier sentiment, stating that there was no rivalry within the British camp. Three of the team’s four riders ride on the same professional team, with the exception of Simon Yates, who is related to another team member – the risk of an intra-team split therefore remains low.
“We’re all on the same page, it can go either way and we all have a good chance of winning. It depends on the cards played in the race and what the other teams are doing. There is no rivalry on any side there, ”he said.
The leadership had yet to be decided when Yates spoke to the press on Thursday morning, but the Giro’s third explained that being at the start line was a relief after the less than ideal build-up that he had suffered.
“Fortunately, I came away with just a lot of bruises,” he said of his accident at the Tour de France.
“It took a while to get over it, it’s not like I’m leaving with nothing. There was a lot of scratching and I thought I had done something to my hip but luckily it’s okay. I’m just grateful to be able to be at the start line. “