At the start of the Tour de France’s second stage, in a carpark on the edge of a gritty sports complex in Vitoria-Gasteiz, there were some stars that made a bigger splash than others. Of those, the Tour’s overnight leader Adam Yates was undoubtedly one of them. But in a surprise twist, he wasn’t the only Yates in a yellow jersey. And – with all due respect to Adam – he certainly wasn’t the cutest.
That honour went to his dog, Zoe – a cloud-like Samoyed stuffed into a child-sized yellow jersey, fielding a constant stream of visitors. Photographers, ASO staff, fans, media, all wanting to bask in the reflected glory of the maillot jaune.
Speaking to Escape Collective, Adam’s partner Lisa explained that despite appearances otherwise, Zoe isn’t an overly experienced cycling spectator. “She prefers to run at home in the mountains [in Andorra],” Lisa said with a smile. “When she does come to races, she causes a bit of a scene.”
Unlike previous races, however, this one is different – the full glare of the cycling world’s media is on Zoe’s owner, who’s wearing the sport’s most iconic jersey. Zoe’s got one too, now, courtesy of some animal lover in the UAE Team Emirates bus. Lisa was as pleasantly surprised as everyone else: “Zoe got on the bus, and when she came off she was ready for the day.”
In the Basque Country this weekend it’s not hot, necessarily, but it’s muggy, and when the sun comes out it’s got a bit of bite. Zoe was navigating the situation well – albeit “a little bit hot”, which isn’t overly surprising considering Samoyeds come from Siberia. “She’s a super cute, calm dog,” Lisa continued. “She just goes with the flow, whatever the flow may be on any given day.”
That was becoming quite clear, seeing as some fencing contractor was at that point down on his knees with his arm wrapped around the dog’s torso for a picture.
Time for a roll of the dice: does Simon have a matching dog?
“They’re not quite matching,” Lisa told me, “but he does have a very very cute miniature poodle called Tikka.” Like the Yates twins on their brotherly breakaway into Bilbao, “they play together. They’re friends – very good friends.”
I thanked Zoe and Lisa for their time, turned to walk away, then turned back for a quick photo. Zoe took a couple of steps towards me, cheerful snout out, straight into the camera. The closing moments of yesterday’s stage was a pretty good moment for the Yates family, but in that moment, I think Zoe might have the boys pipped.
Correction 4 July: An initial version of the story incorrectly identified Simon Yates’ dog as ‘Tinker’, not ‘Tikka’. Escape Collective regrets the error, and the way that it has spread across the cycling media landscape from all of the people stealing our story ideas.
What did you think of this story?