Rising British star Simon Yates admits he is already raring to go next year after his decision to focus on road racing paid off with a 2013 to remember.
Crowned world points champion on the track in February, the 21-year-old has since turned his attention to the road and, having secured a Tour of Britain stage win in September, last week signed a neo-pro contract with Orica-GreenEDGE alongside twin brother Adam.
Orica-GreenEDGE fought off competition from several other World Tour outfits to secure the signatures of the talented twins and Simon revealed it is the Aussie team’s commitment to developing young riders which saw the Yates’ turn down the likes of Team Sky to sign.
“I’m really excited about joining Orica-GreenEDGE,” he told RCUK. “I can’t wait to get started. I’m already getting the plans through for what’s happening next year – it’s exciting times.
“A lot of the decision was based on the way they want to develop their riders really. As well as my brother going there as well – he had a decent offer from them too so it seemed like the right place to go and I’m really happy with my choice.
“My brother going there wasn’t the deciding factor but it definitely made it easier to choose. It allows us to start-up together and get a bit of a base abroad. It just all makes sense and it’s easier.
“I’m expecting to do a lot of support riding at Orica-GreenEDGE as I would have at Sky, but the way Sky ride their races [up at the front of the bunch] – it’s not great development for a young rider. Although I say that, Josh Edmondson’s a class act and he’s looking good.
“It was that, and a number of reasons. What Orica-GreenEDGE are offering me, they just seemed to click and it seemed to make sense so that’s why I chose them.”
Having won the rainbow jersey in Minsk in February, Yates decision to commit fully to the road has reaped its rewards with a hugely successful year.
Alongside his Tour of Britain achievement – where he went on to finish third overall – he also achieved top-ten finishes at the An Post Ras, Tour de l’Avenir (to add to two stage wins), Thuringen Rundfahrt der U23 and Czech Cycling Tour.
“This is the year I fully committed to the road after the worlds,” he said. “The year before I was still dipping in and out of the track and I was carrying a bit of weight from it. It was never really a full commitment to the road.
“This year, I was fully committed. I decided really early on that was what I wanted to do and that was it really – I fully concentrated, lost a bit of weight and then everything sort of fully clicked from there.”
Yates’ biggest achievement on the road this year came in the form of his Tour of Britain stage victory on the summit finish at Haytor however.
The youngster, who went on to secure the white jersey for best young rider, attacked a group which also contained Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Colombian climbing sensation Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who finished second to Chris Froome at the Tour de France and also won the King of the Mountains Classification, to earn a memorable victory.
But Yates admits he was as surprised as anyone to have won the stage.
“I went into the whole race looking for the top ten really, but I always knew with the time trial being there that it was a different ball game to normal stage races which I do,” he said.
“With Brad being involved and some of the other guys as well, they were all expected to do well and it was quite a hard task really to get into the top ten from there.
“Really it was a case of assessing after the time trial, seeing where I was and then going on to see what I could do and how I could do.
“Me and Adam both looked at the stage I won, it was one where we looked to show ourselves in but I never expected to win – it was a huge achievement.
“It didn’t really dawn on me until very late on and I looked back one last time and couldn’t believe it really – I didn’t know what to do! I wasn’t expecting it at all so I’m really happy about it.”
Now, having earned his first shot at the WorldTour, Yates is determined to stay grounded as he adapts to his new environment and team mates.
“First and foremost I want to learn the ropes,” he said. “I’ve got no ambitions for myself at all really. Now I’m with the pros it’s a different ball game altogether.
“I want to learn the ropes at first and then see where I fit in results-wise.”