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Y is for Yates: The Animal

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June 30, 2016 – For the letter Y in our A-to-Z countdown to the 2016 Tour de France (#TDF2016) we’ve chosen Sean YATES, the British rider whom teammates amicably called The Animal for his brute strength, fearless descending skills and ability to pull the peloton for hours at a time.

#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada

After a 15-year pro career, including 12 Tours, he became a directeur sportif and is now a highly regarded DS with the Tinkoff team of Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan. Yates was a product of England’s amateur time trialing scene, where he set a national 10-mile record of 19:44 at age 20 in 1980 (before anything aero in cycling).

After a year with the famed ACBB club in France, he turned pro in 1982 for the Peugeot team alongside future stars Phil Anderson, Robert Millar and Stephen Roche. Yates also raced for the Fagor, 7-Eleven and Motorola squads. This image was taken in the first week of the 1994 Tour, during which he became the third Briton to wear the yellow jersey after inserting himself in a long, successful breakaway on the 270.5-kilometer stage 6 through Normandy and Brittany between Cherbourg and Rennes.

Six years before that, while riding for Fagor, Yates was the first Brit to win a Tour time trial, setting a race record speed of 49.237 kilometers per hour (with no helmet of aero bars!) for the 52-kilometer stage 6 from Liévin to Wasquehal in northern France. What an animal!

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