The Sean Yates Classic

The second Sunday of April is reserved for suffering - the day of Paris Roubaix. 

The Sean Yates Classic is on the same day as ‘The Hell of the North’ and pays tribute to the Spring Classics. I’ve done a lot of riding in Flanders, for me, it's the heartland of the sport, if you’re looking for an authentic Classics experience, this is it.

Sean Yates AKA ‘THE ANIMAL’ is one of Britain’s greatest; he has won stages of the Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Giro d’Italia, Paris Nice, Milk Race, the 1992 National Road Race Champion, Winner of the Tour of Belgium and the Eddy Merckx GP (to name a few).

You don’t get named ‘THE ANIMAL’ for sitting in the wheels and rolling around in the sunshine,  he’s a powerhouse hard-man who excels in tough conditions.

In 1994 - Yates came 5th in Paris Roubaix, a fantastic result as it was a particularly hard year, snow and rain coated the riders and cobbles, making them even more treacherous.

A mud-coated peloton huddled together like penguins sheltering from a bitter wind, but not Yates... or Museeuw, Ballerini and a small bunch of riders, they were out battling the elements, chasing down the lead - Andrei Tchmil.

Tchmil launched a solo attack with 67km to go, even the Lion of Flanders (Johan Museeuw) couldn’t bridge… Tchmil held them off and took the Queen of the Classics. 

Paris Roubaix is probably the toughest race in the calendar - Yatesy, probably the toughest rider in the Peloton, the Yatesy Classic is... guess what?... tough.

Rolling out from Herstmonceux into Sussex and the Ashdown Forest, Yates was hitting like a heavyweight, with the svelte figure of a lightweight. Liam Yates (son) has defiantly inherited some Animal-like characteristics, a strong rider who clearly enjoys rolling with the punches. 

Yates isn’t just phenomenal at riding a bike, his knowledge of the sport is second to none, I asked who his money was on for Paris Roubaix? “Sagan” - Yep, he was right.

Being an ex-pro and meticulous Directeur Sportif for some of the biggest teams in cycling (played a pivotal role in Sir Wiggo’s career), he’s bound to know a thing or two.

If you’re looking for ‘A Sunday in Hell’ on British soil - www.velopace.com

Never ‘off the peg’ Yates is a benchmark of cycling style, he rides in an aggressive position, suffers hard and has ridden in some of the sharpest team Kit; Motorola, Fagor, Peugeot, no surprise that he rocked up in custom Rapha kit

Rapha really concidered this one, his palmarès on the back, National Champ bands, Peugeot checkerboard around the middle and the colours of Tinkoff. 

 Reilly Cycleworks built him a custom frame to match the kit, a real combination of style and his career.

Gareth.

Gareth Winter