ADAM Yates will begin his Ineos Grenadiers career this week as the defending champion at the UAE Tour.

Twelve months ago the Bury-born rider secured the biggest win of his career when he won a curtailed edition in the colours of Mitchelton-Scott.

But the story of his success was somewhat lost as a coronavirus outbreak - the first at a major cycling race - saw the final two stages cancelled and riders forced into quarantine.

It was not how Yates would have chosen to secure his first WorldTour stage-race win, but it carries no less weight.

"I was really happy with it," the 28-year-old said. "Hopefully I showed I was one of the strongest guys in the race. I hope I showed I was meant to win even with the cancellation and the shortened stage race.

"I've had a lot of bad luck in stage races, a lot of second places and close calls, so to finally win one was nice. Everything came together and worked out for me.

"I guess it was a little bit (overshadowed) but at the end of the day your name is still on the results sheet."

Yates expects to have a hard time defending his title over the coming week, however.

A stacked field including Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar, Joao Almeida, Vincenzo Nibali and a rehabbing Chris Froome is one obstacle, but so is the stage two time trial.

"I just hope I've got the legs I had last year," Yates said. "But last year there were two climbs and no TT. This year is a bit more complicated, especially as the course for the TT is pan flat, it's a strongman course so obviously it doesn't suit me, but I'll do my best.

"For sure I'm going to lose time. After stage two we'll sit down, see what the damage is, and see what we need to do."

Yates' switch from what is now Team BikeExchange, splitting from twin brother Simon, was one of the marquee moves of the winter, reinforcing Ineos' British core after Froome's departure for Israel Start-Up Nation.

Yates left a team where he was part of a small group of candidates to target major stage races, instead joining a stacked line-up at Ineos alongside past and present Grand Tour champions in Geraint Thomas, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Egan Bernal and Richard Carapaz.

With Bernal targeting the Giro d'Italia this year while Thomas, Geoghegan Hart and Carapaz eye the Tour, Yates will target the Vuelta a Espana, the late-season race which riders usually only turn attention to later in the summer.

For Yates - who is also eyeing the Olympic road race - it will allow him more time to acclimatise to his new surroundings.

"New team, new equipment, new bike, new everything," he said. "I could go to the Giro and maybe do something but if you haven't ironed out all the niggles...

"Because of Covid I might not even meet some of the people (in the team) until the end of the year, so it made sense for me.

"For the last couple of years I've always had a massive focus at the start of the year and then it's trying to hold that form all the way into the Tour and that's maybe not gone to plan.

"Maybe having a break, freshening up, I can come in hot at the end of the year.

"I want to have a good run at a Grand Tour without injury and see what happens. I know if I'm at my best, in top condition, I can fight for the win but I just need all the pieces to come together."