Simon Yates to Visma-Lease a Bike would be soothing to the soul

Some transfers just make sense and provide the possibility of neatly tied up narrative arcs.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 18.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Simon Yates is apparently on his way to Visma-Lease a Bike next year.

That’s according to Het Laatste Nieuws’ Bram Vandecappelle, a reporter who usually knows what’s going on, with Wielerflits saying they’ve also checked this news with their sources. The rest of us mere mortals who don’t exist in the shadows, extracting information from mechanics, team staff and agents under the cover of darkness, will have to wait until August 1 to have it confirmed.

So, after 11 years of faithful service to Jayco-AlUla, 31-year-old Yates is ready for a new lease of life. While he’s got both a Vuelta a España and a year-long (non-intentional) doping ban for his efforts, his twin brother Adam flew the Australian nest that had always housed them in 2021, for a presumed big bag of money over at Ineos Grenadiers. Two years later, he traded that for another likely big cheque at UAE Team Emirates, to really dial up Tadej Pogačar’s climbing support, as well as the freedom to continue targeting his own success, winning the Tour de Romandie, a Tour stage and yellow jersey, as well as his recent Tour de Suisse victory.

Simon no doubt has the more impressive career palmarès, but results have been lacking since the 2022 Giro d’Italia – a lifetime in professional sport. On that opening 2023 Tour stage, he was second to his brother, likely the only person he’d be happily beaten by, and the symmetry of their out-of-the-saddle climbing on that day in Bilbao still reverberates around my brain from time to time, like the last two cells in there on an aimless orbit, daydreaming of Tours de France to come.

Let yourself succumb to their rhythm, and then ask yourself: what would make it better? I’ll tell you what would make it better: if Simon Yates was in a Visma-Lease a Bike jersey.

No disrespect to Jayco-AlUla (exactly what someone says right before they deal out some slight disrespect – sorry) but it’s plain and evident they are not of the level of UAE Team Emirates and Visma-Lease a Bike. Would Simon, always traditionally the more prolific of the two, have been able to stick with and potentially overcome Adam on that pitch up to the finish line in Bilbao had he had Visma-Lease a Bike’s superior resources? Would we have got the true twin-on-twin bout cycling fans deserve? Inseparable by everything down to that last gene? The photo finish can’t even tell them apart, and thus they squeeze into the same yellow jersey on the podium, willing to share with their brother. “Thank goodness I’ve only got to frame one jersey up on the very limited wall space I’ve got left,” Mama Yates says, probably.

Imagine, at the 2025 Tour de France, Jonas Vingegaard on the comeback trail after Tadej Pogačar halted his three-peat in 2024. Adam Yates is Pogačar’s last man, Simon is Vingegaard’s, both drop simultaneously as their leaders blast off to contest yet another stage victory. The twins roll in, both back at the top of the sport where they belong. They greet Zoe, Adam’s cloud-like Samoyed, and all is right in the world no matter the result.

Simon and Adam Yates in arms after the 2023 Tour de France stage 1 finish.
For now, you’ll have to imagine this photo but with Simon in Visma-Lease a Bike kit instead of Jayco-AlUla.

Some transfers just make sense and this promises to be one of the biggest this year, with Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale’s Ben O’Connor rumoured to be heading to Jayco-AlUla as Yates’ replacement.

Vingegaard could sure use some more mountain firepower when you compare it to Pogačar’s expected corps this coming Tour (Almeida, Yates, Sivakov, Ayuso, Soler), and as has been shown with the likes of Christophe Laporte and Matteo Jorgenson, joining the Dutch team doesn’t necessarily mean becoming submerged in solely a long list of superdomestique duties.

Really, actual brotherly love/rivalry is the cherry on top of the Visma/UAE duopoly. From this series of Unchained, we’ve seen how Pogačar and Vingegaard, and by extension their teams, drive each other on knowing their rival will be doing all he can to be faster. The additional imagery of an actual house divided between the two superpowers is the missing piece before the film rights get sold to Hollywood.

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