British rider Simon Yates brings insider knowledge to Orica-GreenEDGE

Leeds: Simon Yates, a rookie professional and one of only four British riders in the Tour de France, could play a vital role in helping the Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team win the hilly second stage through Yorkshire on Sunday.

The 21-year-old is in terrific form and will relish the nine categorised climbs that characterise the 201-kilometre stage from York to Sheffield.

But even better, Yates also knows the course like the back of his hand as he is from nearby Bury and has had regular training rides on many of the roads in the route.

Yates, who was only told of his Tour selection after last Sunday's British road title race, made it clear his goal is to help Australian leader Simon Gerrans win a stage.

"That's all I'm here for. I have no personal ambitions to do well. I'm just here to help," said Yates, whose twin brother Adam is on Orica-GreenEDGE but not racing the Tour.

"Gerrans has a huge opportunity to win that stage … especially also because the roads are my local training roads, it's real good.

"I know all the climbs like the back of my hands. I'm usually out with my brother [Adam] and Josh Hunt. We're a small training group, but they are the guys I go with.

"I hope to give Gerrans that knowledge … that [it] will give us a good advantage."

For Yates and the team, his misfortune at the Tour of Turkey where he broke his collarbone in a crash, has become a lucky break of sorts.

His enforced spell out of competition means he was able to come into the Tour knowing that he is fresh.

And in turn that may now pay handsome dividends for his Orica-GreedEDGE team.

A win by Gerrans, who like Yates excels in such hills as his win in Liege-Bastogne-Liege in May showed, would be the perfect tonic to settle the disruptions Orica-GreenEDGE have had going into the Tour with two riders being sidelined from it.

On Friday, Australian Michael Matthews was taken out of the team due to his injuries sustained in a crash last Tuesday while training in Monaco.

He was replaced by Canadian Christian Meier who flew in to England on Thursday from Vancouver after being called up to be on standby for Matthews.

On Wednesday, Orica-GreenEDGE announced that South African teammate Daryl Impey, who wore the Tour leader's yellow jersey for two days last year, had been pulled out of the team's selection frame after learning that he had failed a drug test.

Impey tested positive for the drug probenecid, a known masking agent, in both his A and B samples taken after the South African road championships held on February 6.

Impey has been provisionally suspended by the team pending the outcome of his case.

Those developments have forced the team to revise strategies for certain stages, but Australian teammate Simon Clarke says the changes are not necessarily for the worse.

"You can look at the negatives or positives and there are just as many positives as negatives," Clarke said.

"I look at the positives and say, 'OK, we only focus on Gerro [rather than Matthews as well] and we have another support guy to help Gerro [in Meier] early, which he will almost likely do, and we build on that."

Clarke, who raced in his first Tour last year, is another rider who will play a vital role in hilly stages like Sunday's.

And with Swiss teammate Michael Albasini who is also strong in hills, Gerrans will not be short of support.

"We need to ride strongly as a team to win," Clarke said.

"We will really need to be active in that last 40 kilometres to cover any attacks and moves and to provide support."

The story British rider Simon Yates brings insider knowledge to Orica-GreenEDGE first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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