Laurens De Plus, one of the several new signings at Ineos Grenadiers for 2021, has said that he'll get the chance to take his own opportunities at the team next season as well as working for the numerous big names on the squad.
The Belgian might have been expected to slot into an exclusively domestique role at the British squad, which features four Grand Tour winners in the form of Egan Bernal, Richard Carapaz, Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart, as well as several other top tier leaders. However he told Sporza that there will be certain races where he can go for his own results. The Ardennes Classics will be one such set of races.
"My role will not be as everyone thinks. I really have ambition. We agreed with the team that I will still go for the Grand Tours and go with the leaders. In certain races I will be able to take my own chance," he said.
"I've indicated that the Ardennes Classics are close to my heart. The plan is to be good there and get a free role. In the other races? I'm not stupid – we have a super team and it will be nice to race for victory with the team.
"I was very happy when I was allowed to put on the Ineos kit for the first time on January 1. It gave me an adrenaline boost. I'm looking forward to be able to shine again this year, as in 2019."
The 25-year-old from the Netherlands moves on after two years spent at Jumbo-Visma, and a 2020 season he'd rather forget. De Plus suffered with a hip problem and only logged four race days across the COVID-19 affected season.
After a 2019 season which saw him win the BinckBank Tour and show himself as a top domestique for Steven Kruijswijk at the Tour de France, the disrupted season was a disaster, even if he could enjoy a good send-off from the Dutch team.
"It was a bit disappointing," he said. "Due to the lockdown, the entire season was crammed into three months. The hip injury before the restart was therefore very inconvenient.
"I'm glad that I was able to race a few more races in the end. I was able to experience the team's victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Thanks to Roglič's victory there I was able to say goodbye to Jumbo-Visma in a nice way. Otherwise, it would have been sour."
Now, De Plus can look forward to a new start and a spell on another of cycling's top teams after spells at Deceuninck-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma.
"I had a good winter. I trained the muscles around my hip. Last month, I completed a good camp in Gran Canaria and this week we left for Gran Canaria again.
"I had a very good conversation with [Ineos manager] Dave Brailsford. The team has won almost all the Grand Tours that matter in the last 10 years. They know how to make a racer, so I was charmed and honoured that they were interested in me.
"It's a team I've looked up to all my life. My brother worked there at the service course, and a friend of mine was a mechanic. I know that everything is super fine there."
"The [team virtual meeting] was great fun. Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas were the 'godfathers'. They took us through the baptism. I had to throw back some shots and sing Christmas carols."
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