On the 13th September 2018, Simon Yates rode into Madrid on the final stage of the 73rd edition of La Vuelta de España. This quiet and unassuming lad from Bury had completed a truly remarkable feat by becoming only the second Briton to win the General Classification of La Vuelta.
His quest to claim the red jersey started on stage 4 when he showed a real statement of intent by finishing 8th on the first mountain stage, moving up to 3rd in the GC standings.
Simon’s first acquisition of the red jersey was on stage nine when he took overall lead by 1 second over Spaniard, Alexander Valverde. He then lost the lead on stage 12 only to regain it with his first stage win on the climb of La Camperona on stage 14.
Stage 16 was the individual time trial which would usually be something of an obstacle for Simon, but he finished with an excellent time, faster than all his GC contenders.
He then spent the remaining stages in the red jersey, with Valverde chasing his heels at just 25 seconds behind until stage 19 when Simon finished in true style by attacking on the final climb putting over a minute on his main rival.
Simon then completed a solid ride on the final mountain stage to all but ensure his first Grand Tour victory. He finished the tour 1 minute 46 seconds ahead of surprise runner up, Enrique Mas.
This was in a year when he had very nearly rode to victory in Italy at the Giro, spending many days in La Maglia Rosa and winning three stages before unfortunately cracking on the slopes of the Finestre on stage 19.
Rewind to 2016. Simon’s identical twin brother Adam had a fantastic year, achieving great success in the Tour de France by winning the white jersey and only narrowly missing out on a podium place. An amazing achievement at the youthful age of only 23.
At 26 years old, Simon and Adam are already the most successful twins in cycling history, exceeding the honours of previous twins in the sport such as the Oxtoa’s of Spain or the Russian Efimkin brothers.
In an era tainted by the controversy associated with Team Sky, it’s not hard to understand why the brothers are becoming popular with British cycling fans. It’s not just the Brits who have taken to the twins either, they have been adopted by the home of their team Michelton Scott who regard them as honourary Aussies.
Of course, their history was paved by a club very dear to our members, the Clarion, the Bury Clarion to be exact. This was the club introduced to them at a young age by their father John who would take young Adam and Simon to attend Bury Clarion track sessions at Manchester Velodrome. The brothers quickly became obsessed with cycling and destined themselves to become cycling greats.
Bury Clarion chairman Nick Hall recalls their time as youths with the club. “I must have met them first when they were about 12 but even from that age they both knew they wanted to turn pro. They talked about it in the way most boys talk about becoming footballers. And you sort of thought to yourself ‘Yeah OK.’ while thinking ‘This isn’t very likely’.
“Just normal kids who have made it to the top thanks to hard work and dedication. They didn’t have the stamina back then but they’d race each other to the traffic lights, or past a bus stop, or whatever. Typical siblings.’’
“But they weren’t fazed by anything and I think that still comes across. Whether it was the local club ride or Alberto Contador.’’
“When they started racing at Manchester velodrome, that made a massive difference to them. And they stood out among their peers there. They progressed to outdoor races and once again they stood out from very early on.”
The brothers have come a very long way since their time with the Clarion but there must be a place in their hearts for the club where it all began. Long may their success continue and hopefully we’ll see a Grand Tour win for Adam in the near future.
View Adam’s palmarès at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Yates_(cyclist)#Career_achievements