Simon Yates planning to race both Giro and Tour in build-up to Tokyo Olympics

Simon Yates plans to race both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France this year but is yet to decide which will be his primary target as he looks towards the Tokyo Olympics.

The 28-year-old is waiting for full details of the Giro route to be revealed before making a final call, but could look to target pink again after admitting this year’s Tour and its 58 kilometres of individuals time trials does not play to his strengths.

“The Tour is looking difficult already,” Yates told the PA news agency. “I’m hoping for a better Giro course. With so many time trial kilometres (the Tour) is not a perfect course for me, but we’ll see.”

The Giro route is ordinarily announced in October but the presentation has been delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic, with no further information on the May race expected before next month.

If pink becomes his goal, Yates will then target stage wins at the Tour in order to arrive in Tokyo in the best possible condition for the Olympic road race – due to take place on July 24, less than a week after the Tour finishes in Paris.

“For me personally it’s to do with the Olympics,” the Team BikeExchange rider said of competing in both races.

“I won’t target both. For me, it’s not possible. I’ll just do one for (the general classification) and we’ll go from there.”

Yates made the Giro his primary focus last year but his bid for pink ended abruptly when he contracted coronavirus during the race and was forced to withdraw before the start of stage eight.

Yates had gone into the Giro in superb form after beating Geraint Thomas to win Tirreno-Adriatico, but suffered in the early mountain tests, something he believes was an early sign of the virus.

After testing positive Yates left the race in an ambulance and spent almost two weeks in isolation in an apartment near the team’s base in Varese, suffering with flu-like symptoms.

“During the race I didn’t really feel anything,” he said. “It started with a headache and a little fever but once I was taken to Varese I started to get worse.

“After a few days I started to feel better again and after maybe 12 days I had another test which came back negative so I was free to go home.”

Yates underwent tests last month to ensure he was not suffering any lingering effects from the virus, but the loss of off-season training has left him short of full fitness as the new season looms.

“For sure I’ve got some work to do, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “But we have time so I’m not overly concerned.”

As Yates eyes a relatively light start to the season, beginning at the Tour of Valencia in early February before Tirreno-Adriatico the following month, he is wondering when he might first come up against twin brother Adam.

2019 UCI Road World Championships – Men’s Elite Road Race – Leeds to Harrogate
2019 UCI Road World Championships – Men’s Elite Road Race – Leeds to Harrogate

The pair have spent the last seven years as team-mates, but Adam left this winter to join the Ineos Grenadiers.

“This first camp now is the first time I’ve not been with him,” Yates said. “We went to Gran Canaria for a training camp in December so it’s only just these last two weeks he’s not been here.

“It’s been a bit different but it’s fine. Everybody tries to make the comparison, but it’s fine.

“For sure it will be difficult to race against him if we cross paths but it’s all fun and games.”