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Tour de France 2007

You are in: Kent > Features > Sport > Tour de France 2007 > Q&A: Sean Yates

Sean Yates

Jersey wearer in 1994

Q&A: Sean Yates

One of the few Brits to ever wear the yellow jersey of the leader of the Tour de France, Sean is now sporting director at the Discovery Channel team and has worked closely with former team leader and Tour legend Lance Armstrong. Read our Q&A.


Born: 18 May 1960

Lives: Forest Row, East Sussex

Team: Discovery Channel

Job title: Sporting director

Tours: 12 (as a rider)

Best Tours: 1989 - 45th; 1994 – stage winner and briefly wore yellow jersey

Sean took the overall Tour de France lead back in 1994 on home soil after a blistering ride against the clock and became known as one of the best domestiques of all time in his lengthy career. As sporting director for one of the top teams at this year's Tour, he's still intimately involved in the world's greatest bike race.

Q: Being a team manager at Lance Armstrong's former team must keep you very busy these days, do you still get time to train yourself?

SY: Being a director sportif does keep me busy at times, especially when I am away at races. But when I am home I am pretty much free to do what I want. And that would normally include riding the bike when I feel like it.

At the races I would go out early, around 6am and always aim to be back, showered and packed before the riders come down for breakfast, which would normally be between 8-9am. So my rides would be around 90 minutes long, plenty to keep you in shape.

But all the riding has been stopped at the moment because of a heart problem that has been with me for the last four years. I need to ease off for a while, but hopefully by the time the Tour comes along I will be able to ride again.

Sean Yates

Yates training with Discovery Team in the States

Q: When you're not on the circuit with the team, you live in the East Sussex village of Forest Row - do you get much chance to enjoy a cycle around Ashdown Forest?

SY: I have lived in Forest Row on the Ashdown Forest for 40 years now and it’s a great place to live, especially for children. When I was young I used to spend hours flying around on my bike in the forest. These days I go out with my three children, who enjoy messing around on their bikes too.

Q: What were the high and low points of your career?

SY: The high points I think would be my yellow jersey day, my stage wins in the Tour and Vuelta, 5th place in Paris Roubaix and the US Pro Champs. Early on when things were looking dodgy regarding getting a pro contract was the low point.

Q: How do you rate the following three experiences in the Tour: wearing the yellow jersey, winning your first Tour time trial in a record time, and finishing your first Tour?

SY: I think coming into Paris at the end of the Tour cannot be beaten, seeing the finish line for the first time is amazing. You go through hell and high water to get there, and when you actually do it's big. But afterwards there was always a huge comedown.

Being desperate for three weeks to make the finish no matter what and then it’s gone. It takes two or three days to move on afterwards.

Sean Yates

Q: You were a highly successful domestique for 15 years - just how important is the role and can a lead rider still win Le Tour without a strong domestique alongside him?

SY: Being a good team mate is very important. Of course it is possible to win without anybody really helping you. But there are plenty of other races out there besides the Tour, and the most likely way of getting success is to work as a team always.

Q: The sport continues to be dogged by doping stories - in fact in April this year Ivan Basso quit your team over the controversy - so is the sport clean and do you think this year's race will be about cycling or cheating?

SY: Unfortunately, like in all sports, the use of performance enhancing drugs will always play a role. In my opinion, when there is a lot of money at stake there will always be someone willing to take a risk.

This is not only limited to the sport of cycling, however cycling seems to receive the most attention for this. Our sport continues to be a bit of a doormat for the fight against doping in sport but we are also the leaders. I believe cycling tests more than other sports do and is on the right track to having a clean sport.

For the Tour, I think there will still be guys willing to take a risk but there will not be many. The sport is getting cleaner every day. I think doping will be a big story at the start of the race but once the racing starts I expect the attention will shift unless some sort of scandal changes that.

Q: What do you expect to happen on the Kent stage - will the peloton keep together throughout the route, leaving the sprinters to fight it out in Canterbury?

SY: The Kent stage will be fun and fingers crossed it will all go very smoothly. It will seem strange driving behind a race on British soil though. I am sure I will be doing a lot of waving - I aim to enjoy the day.

As to what is going to happen, I am pretty sure it will end in a field sprint and my tip for that is the Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati from the Lampre team.

Q: You'll be riding in the team car during the Kent stage - is there still a little part of you that wishes you were still riding in the peloton?

SY: It would have been nice to be riding the stage as part of the race. But I have been there and done that and I am perfectly happy with what I am doing now!

last updated: 11/01/2008 at 11:36
created: 18/05/2007

You are in: Kent > Features > Sport > Tour de France 2007 > Q&A: Sean Yates

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