Amongst a large number of break-out performances from relative newcomers in the 2016 season were two that particularly caught the eye. Riding with stamina and astuteness beyond your years is hard enough in shorter races but is far more difficult in the longer, harder faster environs of the Grand Tours.
Adam Yates and Bob Jungels’ respective capturing of the Best Young Rider jerseys in the Tour de France and Giro D’Italia were overtly visible proof that once again the pro-peloton is gearing up for the next inevitable changing of the guard. Time (and tyres) wait for no man and the arrival of two brand new winners of the coveted White Jerseys are the most tangible expression of this most eternal of truths.
Occasionally prodigious talent means that white jersey ambitions coincide with those of yellow or pink but the overall success rate for under 26’s is pretty slim. Since it’s introduction in 1975 only four winners of the Tour de France have worn yellow in Paris whilst eligible for the White Jersey prize (Fignn ’83, Ullrich ’97, Contador ‘07 and Schleck ’10) and and just two in the Giro (Berzin ’94 and Quintana ’14) – though no Young Rider prize was awarded between 1994 and 2007. Generally you need to finish within the Top Fifteen to claim the prize though competition does seem to be stiffening in recent years and eight of the last ten TdF White Jersey winners have been Top Five.
The 2016 White Jersey crop was especially well received in the offices of Altus Sports Management – a newly formed rider agency that happens to count both Adam Yates and Bob Jungles amongst its growing roster. They commissioned Massif Central to create two special edition prints of both three week rides in honour of the achievements.
Being able to celebrate two jersey from the two biggest stage races in the world is a big deal for Altus owner, Gary McQuaid. He’s spent a lifetime around cycling; first as a U23 rider before moving to work in sports marketing and rider agencies:
“Altus Sports Management was established in January 2016 and it’s pretty safe to say it has been an exciting 12 months. In our first year two of our riders won White Jerseys in Grand Tours – Bob Jungels (in the Giro d’Italia) and Adam Yates (in the Tour de France). We were driven to recognise these outstanding achievements and collaborated with Massif Central on a project we titled “Project White”.
Massif Central merged detailed data of the 3,529km Tour and the 3,463km Giro with slick design to create illustrations that actualise and illustrate Bob and Adam’s racing achievements. Both pieces capture 3 week long stories of effort, hardship and achievement and represent the perfect memoir of two dramatic races. These will proudly hang on walls in Luxembourg and Andorra.
We look forward to working again with Massif Central on Project Yellow at some point in the future!”
Both riders had to overcome adversity to attain their prize. Yates memorably crashed on Stage 7 of the Tour when the inflatable Final Kilometre sign collapsed on top of him as he broke away from the bunch on the run in to Lac du Payolle. Initially given the same time as the chasing pack, he missed out on wearing the White Jersey on the podium but was later upgraded into it by the commissaires and he did not relinquish it again. However he would miss out on the yellow jersey on the infamous Stage 12 to Ventoux, when Chris Froome’s “Running Man” was also upgraded by the judges. Without that, Yates would have donned the Maillot Jaune…
Expectation about both Adam and his brother Simon grew quickly in the season leading up to the pair joining Orica in 2014. Most people simply assumed that they would go to Team Sky when they turned pro but many applauded their decision to take places with the Australian team who were sure to give them more opportunities. Both riders have grasped those opportunities with gusto and have quickly taken their place in the upper echelons of the pro ranks. Great things seem sure to beckon.
On the face of things, Bob Jungels had a more straightforward passage through his Giro d’Italia ride than Yates’ rollercoaster ride in the Tour. After taking over the white jersey from Thomas Ludvigsson after Stage 3, Jungels held it comfortably until the end of the race and even had a 3 day spell in the leader’s jersey from Stage 10 onwards. But such a description belittles a performance of real class from the Luxembourg National Champion, who defied expectations everyday to stay with the leaders in the sprints, time trials and the mountains to claim the win. Working alongside more well-known names such as Marcel Kittel and Gianluca Brambilla, the 23 year old showed his great versatility and improved his credentials as a potential future GC contender.
Bob is one of a growing number of pro-riders on Strava meaning that Massif Central were able to use his own Giro data to create the bespoke Giro d’Italia print and yet maintain the secrecy around the project until he received it. Many of the new young riders have grown up with social media and see Strava, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as a natural extension of themselves. They are accustomed to sharing their daily experiences online and view publishing their training and racing rides as a valuable way of connecting with fans and communities.
Of course, winning a White Jersey is never a guarantee of going on to claim the main GC prize. A glance at the record books shows that winning the white jersey and then going on to win overall victory in a later year is almost as rare as the combined win. If either Yates or Jungels achieve that in the future they will be joining more of the all time greats – Visentini, Lemond, Pantani and Ullrich amongst them. It seems to bear out the thinking that riders develop at different rates and those who are strongest earlier are often caught and surpassed just a few years later.
We hope that this isn’t the case for Adam and Bob.
PHOTOS; TIM DE WAELE, YOUTUBE, GETTY, BOB JUNGELS