Adam Yates edges out twin brother Simon to win opening stage of Tour de France

By Sports Desk July 01, 2023 615

Adam Yates beat twin brother Simon to victory on the opening day of the Tour de France to take the yellow jersey and his first Grand Tour stage win in Bilbao.

With their parents out on course, the 30-year-old twins relived the countless times they raced each other on training rides around the roads of Lancashire as youngsters before Adam got the better of Simon on the short rise to the finish.

The pair, riding for rival teams, went clear from a select group at the top of the Cote de Pike, 10km from the finish of a testing 182km stage around the Basque Country, as Adam’s UAE Emirates team-mate Tadej Pogacar and his main rival, defending champion Jonas Vingegaard, eyed each other up.

The twins opened up a 20-second gap on the chasing group as they descended into Bilbao before, as Jayco-Alula’s Simon said he began to suffer with cramp, Adam opened up several bike lengths to take the win.

Back in 2011, Andy Schleck took a stage win on the Galibier ahead of brother Frank but that was by a margin of more than two minutes. Here there were only four seconds as Simon watched Adam raise his arms in celebration.

“Honestly, I don’t even know what to say,” Adam said. “We tried to set the climb up for Tadej, he attacked but then it was a headwind on the descent. My brother came across to me and we started to work together.

“At first I didn’t know if I should work with him, I asked on the radio and they said, ‘Go for it’. I’m speechless. I knew he was going good, I speak to him every day. My brother and I are close and to share this experience with him is really nice.”

Adam is back in yellow after enjoying four days as leader in 2020. Simon is a two-time stage winner in the Tour but the 2018 Vuelta a Espana winner has never worn the leader’s jersey in cycling’s biggest race.

“I’m pleased for him of course, his first Grand Tour stage so I’m ecstatic for him but I also wanted to win,” Simon said. “We’re quite competitive…I have a fantastic relationships with my brother. I’m really happy for him but I’ll stick it to him in the coming days.”

This undulating stage through the Basque Country, one of the most difficult opening stages to a Tour in recent history, left itself open to a host of possibilities. Everyone from the general classification contenders to Classics specialists to strong sprinters had been tipped for victory.

It came down to the GC riders on the decisive final climb, with Pogacar and Vingegaard to the fore towards the summit before the Yates twins went away.

Pogacar has played up the doubts about his fitness given he has raced only once – winning last weekend’s Slovenian national road race – since breaking his wrist in April, but the road provided a more definitive answer as he set the fastest time up the Pike.

“I’m really happy with the performance,” said Pogacar, who led home a chasing group 12 seconds after Yates. “I think the engine started running today. The final climb was super happy but I was satisfied with the shape.”

With bonus seconds applied, Adam leads by eight seconds from Simon, with Pogacar 18 seconds down in third. Vingegaard is among a host of riders a further four seconds back.

Adam Yates started the day dismissing suggestions he was co-leader alongside Pogacar given the questions over the latter’s wrist, but whatever happens over the next three weeks Yates has already had a race to remember.

“Really I just want to keep my feet on the ground,” he said. “We’re here for Tadej, he’s the boss, he’s shown before he’s the best in the world and over the next few weeks I’m sure he’s going to show that again.”

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Last modified on Saturday, 01 July 2023 13:01
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