How to tell Adam and Simon Yates apart

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Last week we looked at how to tell Germany’s top male cyclists apart. In some ways that was an easy task — Pascal Ackermann, Max Schachmann and Emanuel Buchmann all look different, and their names aren’t all that similar. Today, we’ve got a bigger task ahead of us: separating the Yates twins.

To even the most fervent cycling fan, the two brothers from Bury look identical and are very easy to mix up. It can be hard to remember which brother’s racing where, who’s achieved what, and so on.

First up, the basics:

– Both were born on August 7, 1992 (making them 26 at the time of writing).
– Simon was born first, five minutes ahead of Adam.
– They both have a reported race weight of 58kg.
– Adam is one centimetre taller: 173cm vs 172cm.
– Both raced on the track before turning to the road.
– Both joined the WorldTour with Orica-GreenEdge in 2014 and have ridden with the Australian setup since.

So how do we separate the pair? Let’s start with the feature image. Which one is Simon and which one is Adam?

That’s Adam on the left and Simon on the right. But how can we tell?

Ignoring the facial hair (which we can’t rely on as a long-term way to separate them) there are three main ways to tell the twins apart when you see them side-by-side:

– Simon’s head is slightly wider at the top.
– Adam has a scar on his chin (from a crash at the 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico).
– Simon’s front teeth are slightly angled while Adam’s are straighter across.

Adam on the left, Simon on the right.

Unfortunately it’s rare to see the two brothers side-by-side as they tend to have different race calendars. So we aren’t always going to be able to compare them to one another easily. Thankfully we have some clues when it comes to apparel choice.

Over the past couple years Adam had favoured black-framed sunglasses and opted for white Sidi shoes, often with red details (red is his favourite colour).

Simon, meanwhile, has been wearing yellow sunglasses and plain white shoes from Scott.

And what about results? Who was it that won three stages of the Giro last year? Who won the white jersey at the Tour that year? Here’s a breakdown of their career highlights (and lowlights):

Simon Yates

Simon at the 2019 Giro. Note the yellow sunglasses.

– Simon has a total of 16 career wins so far.

– Among those wins is one Grand Tour victory — the 2018 Vuelta a España — and five Grand Tour stage wins (three at the Giro, two at the Vuelta).

– Simon was the 2013 points race world champion on the track.

– He won two mountain stages at the 2013 Tour de l’Avenir.

– Simon’s first professional victory on the road came in 2016 — his third year at WorldTour level. That first win was the Basque one-day race Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika which he followed with a stage win at the Vuelta that same year (his first WorldTour win).

– Simon served a doping ban in 2016 after testing positive for terbutaline at that year’s Paris-Nice. Orica-GreenEdge claimed that the team doctor had failed to apply for a TUE for the asthma medication. The UCI later acknowledged that the infraction wasn’t deliberate but still banned Simon from competition for four months, ensuring he’d miss the Tour de France.

– He was the best young rider at the Tour de France in 2017 (a year after Adam achieved the same feat).

– Simon’s won stages at the Volta a Catalunya (2018) and Paris-Nice (2017, 2018, 2019).

– All three of Simon’s Giro victories were at the 2018 edition where he led the race for 13 days before imploding in the final week.

– Simon has tended towards the Giro and Vuelta in recent years. He said recently that “the Tour isn’t doing anything for me.”

– At the time of writing, Simon is racing the 2019 Giro d’Italia.

Adam Yates

Adam at the 2019 Fleche Wallonne. Note the black sunglasses and the scar on his chin.

– Adam has 10 career victories to date.

– He hasn’t yet managed a Grand Tour stage win or overall victory.

– Adam was second overall at the 2013 Tour de l’Avenir.

– His first professional victory came in his neo-pro season, at the 2014 Tour of Turkey. He won the queen stage and the race overall.

– Adam’s first WorldTour win came at the 2015 Clasica San Sebastian, a race he didn’t realise he’d won until after the finish line. A year earlier he’d crashed out of the lead group just 3.5km from the finish.

– He’s won a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico (2018) and at the Criterium du Dauphine (2018).

– Adam won the best young rider’s jersey at the 2016 Tour de France.

– On stage 7 of the 2016 Tour Adam crashed when he was hit by a deflating 1km-to-go arch.

– In 2019 he’s won a stage of the Volta a Catalunya and a stage at Tour of the Basque Country.

– Where Simon has tended towards racing the Giro and Vuelta in recent years, Adam has focused on the Tour and Vuelta.

– At the time of writing Adam’s last race was Liege-Bastogne-Liege where he finished fourth. He’s preparing for the Tour de France where he’ll lead Mitchelton-Scott’s GC ambitions.


Got all that? Here are a couple of silly but useful mnemonic devices to help separate the two:

– “A” comes before “S” in the alphabet. Adam had professional success before Simon (he’d won Tour of Turkey and Clasica San Sebastian before Simon’s first pro win).
– While Adam started his career very strongly, Simon was saving himself for success at the Vuelta and the Giro.
– It was Adam that was hit by the inflatable arch at the 2016 Tour de France.
Simon was sidelined by a doping ban in 2016.

So far the pair have raced three Grand Tours together: the 2015 Tour, the 2017 Vuelta and the 2018 Vuelta (pictured here).

So who’s the more successful rider? Adam had the stronger start to his career, but based on their results until now, you’d have to say Simon has the family bragging rights. That said, both are just 26 with plenty of their careers still to come. Who knows who will end up with the more impressive palmares by the time they hang up their wheels.

The Yates Quiz


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Thanks to Mitchelton-Scott media manager Taryn Kirby for her input and insight.

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