Simon Yates of Team Jayco AlUla poses with his road bike ahead of the AlUla Tour (January 30th – February 3rd, 2024) at Maraya in AlUla, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Image: Team Jayco AlUla)
AlUla, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia- – As the cycling world turns its attention to the upcoming AlUla Tour from January 30th to February 3rd, 2024, Simon Yates, the general classification leader of Team Jayco AlUla, reflects on their recent performance at the Tour Down Under and shares insights into the team’s goals, the allure of AlUla, and the growing cycling scene in Saudi Arabia, heading into this week’s AlUla Tour.
Reflecting on their recent Tour Down Under performance, Yates remains optimistic, “The Tour Down Under was an OK week. We were close on many occasions, aggressive and assertive where we rode, but unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we hoped for.” Despite challenges, especially in crosswinds, he expresses confidence in climbing, saying, “Once we get to the climbing stage, it’s all guns blazing and all-in for me.”
Yates outlines the team’s goals emphasizing, “The goal [is the general classification]. There are some tricky stages to navigate for me. Being a smaller guy, I am not the strongest in the crosswinds, which there could be here. But once we get to the climbing stage, it’s all guns blazing and all-in for me.” Strategic preparation includes adapting to the heat, with Yates mentioning, “The heat was one of the reasons to go to the Tour Down Under first. That was the idea: to be well adapted to any heat here in AlUla.”
Team Jayco AlUla, the top-ranked UCI World Tour team, enters the AlUla Tour with confidence. Yates emphasizes the team’s cohesion, “Of course, those guys have been here for a couple of years now, so they have more experience than me. They know the roads, conditions, and how we can change on the road.” He praises teammate Dylan Groenewegen’s sprinting prowess saying, “Dylan is coming in with fine form, coming in with a win under his belt. Let’s maintain that momentum for the sprint stages. I’m sure he’ll perform well again, and hopefully, we can secure a stage win.”
The AlUla Tour’s route through historic landscapes captivates Yates, who looks forward to exploring AlUla post-race said, “Yeah, so we have a training camp organized… so another couple of days to explore and see AlUla.” He admires the unique rock formations and anticipates a chance to experience AlUla beyond the race routine adding, “It’ll be great just to hang out for a couple of days in AlUla and really explore as a normal regular tourist.”
Maroj Adil, set to be the first Saudi female cyclist on Team Jayco AlUla’s development squad, represents the progress in Saudi Arabia’s cycling initiatives. Yates looks forward to her development and praises the efforts to promote cycling at all levels saying, “Maroj, I think she came over last year for some testing and a bit of a training camp. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet her. But, you know, that’s also just one of those steps that AlUla and Saudi Arabia are taking, pushing people into new experiences. And yeah, I hope she develops more in the future.”
With ambitions set high, Simon Yates and Team Jayco AlUla aim to showcase high-performance athleticism and the beauty of AlUla and Saudi Arabia in the AlUla Tour. Yates expresses optimism for Saudi Arabia’s cycling future saying, “I don’t see why Saudi Arabia can’t have a world tour rider. I think it’s really developing. From what I’ve heard before coming here to AlUla, I heard the country is really developing on that side of things, and they’re really pushing to develop the sporting side, with cycling being one of those things. I don’t see why not.”
With the ambitions of Simon Yates and Team Jayco AlUla set firmly high, the AlUla Tour promises to be a showcase of high-performance athleticism and breathtaking beauty of AlUla and Saudi Arabia. Watch as these world-class cyclists navigate historic trails, conquer challenging terrains, and take on the iconic vistas of AlUla. Catch all the action from the AlUla Tour unfold on SSC in Saudi Arabia. For the latest AlUla Tour updates and to follow the race, visit www.thealulatour.com.
The AlUla Tour features as part of the wider sporting calendar during this season’s ‘AlUla Moments’, which includes the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup taking part in February, showcasing AlUla’s commitment to diverse and world-class athletic competition.