Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) has withdrawn from the 2014 Tour de France after stage 15 having underlined his huge potential with an impressive debut as a first-year professional.
Yates, who signed to Orica-GreenEDGE with twin brother Adam after a 2013 season which saw him win a stage of the Tour of Britain and finish third overall, was a late addition to the team’s Tour squad and leaves the race having made two breakaways, on stages eight and 14.
Yates’ second escape on Saturday saw him join a 17-man group on a tough Alpine stage, from Grenoble to Risoul, and the 21-year-old was only caught 5.5km from the summit finish.
The Bury-born rider, who leaves Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas as the only Briton left in the race, will return to Girona to rest, recovery and prepare for the second half of the season.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity with the start in Yorkshire,” said Yates. “Almost in my home training base basically and it’s something I will never forget for the rest of my life.
“Once we got over to France it’s been non-stop really and it really has been surreal, a really good experience and I hope to be back here in a year to come.
“Racing wise, [on Saturday] in the breakaway, I felt really good. I got away in a big group, I think there were 17 away in the end, and just got caught in the final climb again.
“But going back to the experience thing, it’s one of those things that you really take on board and it helps you for the future so I think it was just another great opportunity and I’m looking forward to being back.”
Simon and Adam have been two of the revelations of the 2014 season since joining Orica-GreenEDGE, with Adam winning the Tour of Turkey in May, and it was Simon’s crash in that race, , in which he broke his collarbone, which allowed him to rest after a race-heavy start to the year and earn a late Tour de France call-up.
And Yates has more than justified that selection, with Orica-GreenEDGE directeur sportif Matt White rating the young Briton’s Tour debut as “ten out of ten”.
“For a 21-year-old neo-pro, he contributed every day, everything he could do,” said White.
“Making one break in the Tour de France is an achievement but to make a couple and the way he has gone about the whole Tour de France experience is a great sign for the future.
“Yes, it would be nice for him to finish the Tour, but it was a group decision that enough is enough and we have a lot of goals for him in the second half of the season.”