Britain’s Simon Yates has claimed that even with his historic win in La Vuelta he will never be a “superstar”.
The 26-year-old, who rides for Michelton-Scott, secured his first Grand Tour title on Sunday to become British cycling’s latest success story.
His victory meant that a Briton has won each of this year’s Grand Tours, but even in a golden age for the sport in his home country, where Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are among those to have become household names, Yates does not expect to become the latest.
“Cycling is still a small sport in the UK,” he told BBC Sport. “We have had many successes now but if you compare it to football or any other sport it’s still a small sport.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be a superstar, but that’s fine by me because that’s not my character. I’m quite a laid-back guy, I like to relax on my own.
“I really just want to celebrate this victory first. This is the first Grand Tour for the team; it’s a really historic moment.
“Even in the final day there in Andorra I really didn’t believe that I could do it. I have been second many, many times, just missing out. We were really focused just to cross the finish line, really complete the job well and it was just an unbelievable journey.”
Wiggins won the Tour de France with Sky, but he told Europort’s The Bradley Wiggins Show: “If he’d gone to Sky, I don’t think he’d have won the Vuelta.
“It was a sliding doors moment, whether his career would have gone down this path. By nature of the fact that Sky wouldn’t take Adam as well in one package, he’s ended up finding a great team and won a grand tour at 26.”
It is not the first time Wiggins has spoken out against his former employers.
Wiggins’ opinions appear to stem from Team Sky’s habit of signing up young rising stars to act as so-called “super domestiques” to their leading grand tour contenders, in recent years mostly Froome.
Any belated move by Team Sky to sign up Yates as a leading rider in the wake of his success could be complicated by their own zero tolerance policy and Yates’ positive test for terbutaline in 2016.
Wiggins also said that Yates deserved extra praise for the way in which he fought back from his disappointment in the Giro d’Italia just four months ago, when a nightmare stage 19 plunged him out of contention.
Yates’ victory came after Thomas won this year’s Tour de France, and Froome became the first from Britain to win the Giro d’Italia.