Monthly Archives: June 2019

‘We have a team to challenge for the win’

Adam Yates celebrates victory on the seventh stage of the 2018 Criterium du Dauphine

Adam Yates finished 29th at the 2018 Tour de France

Britain’s Adam Yates will be supported by twin Simon in the Mitchelton-Scott team as he looks to challenge for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.

The 26-year-old finished fourth in 2016 but came 29th last year as Welshman Geraint Thomas claimed overall victory.

The Mitchelton-Scott leader was in contention to win June’s Tour warm-up – the Criterium du Dauphine – but pulled out of the final stage through illness.

The 106th edition of the Tour de France begins in Brussels on Saturday, 6 July.

“A couple years ago I was fourth and not far from the podium, I don’t really want to put a marker on what I want to achieve, I just know I’d like to go better than previously and with the condition and consistency I’ve had this year I don’t see why not,” said Adam.

“Once we hit the mountains Jack [Haig] and Simon will be there to push the pace if we need to, so I feel we’ve got a really nice balanced team that will help us challenge for the win.”

Winner of the 2016 young rider classification, Yates supported twin Simon as he won his first Grand Tour at the 2018 Vuelta a Espana.

They will be joined in the eight-strong squad by Australian debutant Jack Haig, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Chris Juul-Jensen, Daryl Impey and Matteo Trentin.

The 2019 Tour de France route covers 3,460km (2,150 miles) across its 21 stages leading to the finale on the Champs Elysees.

Four-time champion Chris Froome will miss the race and faces at least six months away from cycling following a high-speed crash last month.

British riders have won six of the past seven editions of the race, starting with Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012.

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Geraint Thomas: Defending champion named joint leader of Ineos

Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas

Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas rode together last year as Thomas won the Tour de France. There is an 11-year age gap between the riders.

Defending champion Geraint Thomas and Colombian Egan Bernal have been named joint leaders of Team Ineos for the 2019 Tour de France.

Chris Froome is absent after fracturing his femur, elbow and ribs in a high-speed crash earlier this month.

Jonathan Castroviejo, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Wout Poels, Luke Rowe and Dylan van Baarle complete Ineos’ line-up for the 21-stage race.

Thomas said he was “lucky to escape serious injury” in a crash on 19 June.

The 33-year old, who became the first Welshman to win the race in 2018, said he thought the chance to defend his Tour de France title was over after a bad crash at the Tour of Switzerland.

His team-mate Bernal is in better form, and heads into the race after triumphing at the Tour de Suisse.

Thomas said he was excited about returning to the race and has no issue being named as a joint leader.

“Winning the Tour de France last year was the highlight of my professional cycling career and racing with the number one on my back is going to be special this year,” he said.

“The memories of 2018 will remain with me forever, but now I’m ready to create more with the team this year.

“It’s no secret my build-up has been affected by the crash at Tour de Suisse, but I’ve had a good block of training since and I feel ready.

“Discussing with the team, we believe it makes sense to go into the race with joint leaders as it gives us more options. Egan and I will work hard for each other and the team over the three weeks of the race.

“We’ve got a really exciting blend of youth and experience in the team.”

Bernal will compete in the Tour de France for the second time.

“I have really good memories from last year,” he said. “It was my first Tour de France so it was special. We enjoyed a great victory with G and it was something really special to be a part of. Of course, our ambition is to win the race again this year.”

Team leader Sir Dave Brailsford acknowledged that Froome’s absence had hindered preparations.

“There is always a strong sense of anticipation before any Tour, but this one is that bit more special for us as it’s our first racing as Team Ineos,” he said.

“And while our preparation hasn’t been straightforward following Chris Froome’s recent crash, we will be at the start line with a really strong team that is hungry to win again.

“After the success of last year, we have decided to come into the race with joint leaders. Geraint and Egan are both in great form. They trust each other and we believe that this approach will best suit us as a team by giving us the greatest flexibility on the road and the best possible chance of success.

“Alongside them, we have five of the riders who supported Geraint in his victory last year.”

Ineos: Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, Jonathan Castroviejo, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Wout Poels, Luke Rowe, Dylan van Baarle

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Kenny helps Britain claim European Games bronze

Jason Kenny

Jason Kenny (right) was making his first appearance at the European Games

Six-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny helped Great Britain claim bronze in the men’s team sprint at the European Games in Minsk.

Kenny and team-mates Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens finished in 43.020 seconds.

Reigning world champions the Netherlands won the gold medal, beating France with a time of 42.385.

Earlier, Great Britain’s women’s team finished second fastest in qualifying for the team pursuit, which continues on Friday.

The British quartet of Jessica Roberts, Megan Barker, Jenny Holl and Josie Knight combined for a time of 4:22.865. Italy finished first with a time of 4:22.865.

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European Games: Hayley Simmonds claims time trial bronze

Hayley Simmonds

Hayley Simmonds won time trial bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2018

Great Britain’s Hayley Simmonds says she overcame her race anxiety to win a bronze medal in the women’s cycling time trial at the European Games.

The 30-year-old, a bronze medallist at last year’s Commonwealth Games, edged out team-mate and fourth-placed finisher Alice Barnes by 0.81 seconds.

Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser won in 36 minutes 17.41 seconds, with Chantal Blaak of the Netherlands second.

“I’m just really happy to finish on the podium,” said Simmonds.

“When I see my name on the board back at HQ, I’ll probably start crying.

“I get really bad race nerves and anxiety so I just tried to keep myself calm and think of how I felt at the Commonwealth Games.”

Overall, Britain enjoyed a successful day five of the multi-sport games, with triumphs in a number of disciplines.

There were boxing victories for Calum French, Luke McCormack, Ben Whittaker and Cheavon Clarke, but Aqeel Ahmed lost on a split decision.

On the water, Tom Lusty finished third out on the regatta course to qualify for Wednesday’s men’s K1 1,000m final, while women’s C2 500m duo Chloe Bracewell and Katie Reid overcame a race delay and lane change in the semi-finals to finish second and progress to Thursday’s final.

Elsewhere, the British badminton team won their second matches in the group stage, but Corey Walkes narrowly missed out on a place in the individual trampoline competition.

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‘I was starting to sink’

Callum Skinner with a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Callum Skinner won a gold and silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016

Callum Skinner says he retired from elite cycling because there was too much focus on performance and “not enough on getting better” when he told bosses of his mental health problems.

The Olympic champion quit the sport in March, having initially announced he would be taking a break from cycling.

The Scot said at the time he wanted to focus on improving rights and working conditions for athletes.

“I was treading water and starting to sink, I guess,” said Skinner.

The 26-year-old, who won team sprint gold and sprint silver at Rio in 2016, said he was still targeting Tokyo 2020 after taking some time out last summer, before deciding to step away from the track for good.

The 2018 Commonwealth 1km time trial bronze medallist says he was “going through a pretty tough time” and revealed to the management team at British Cycling that he was “suffering from pretty serious mental health issues”.

He says the conversation then turned to how long his break could be before it would rule him out of the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, he added: “That was really just the point when I decided to step away.

“It was basically a little bit of a cry for help and it became all too much about performance and not enough about getting better, from my point of view.

“I wasn’t going to go into that meeting and have my athleticism and my work ethic questioned. Especially when I’d taken the plunge in disclosing some of my mental health issues.

“At that point I decided just to bow out.”

Skinner says he recognises the job of British Cycling is to make sure athletes are in a good state to perform – “whether physical or mental” – but suggests the issues he was struggling with were “not well enough understood at the time”.

“I was asking for a break for the sake of my safety, which was recommended by Dr Steve Peters, my coach and the team doctor, so to then have that morph into a conversation about performance just made me feel as if this wasn’t really something I wanted to do any more,” added Skinner, who leads Global Athlete, an organisation set up to push for enhanced rights for athletes.

A British Cycling spokesman said: “We are aware of Callum’s health problems and we sought to support him throughout.

“His feedback has helped improve the mental health provision for our athletes and we continue to wish him well in the next phase of his career.”

Last year British Cycling said it would make changes to be more caring to riders following a damning 2017 report into allegations of bullying and a “culture of fear” that put the pursuit of medals above the welfare of athletes.

The governing body has since launched a new mental health strategy in a bid to support the mental health and well-being of its athletes.

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