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Viral illness sidelines De Plus for unspecified time

LEVENS FRANCE MARCH 14 Laurens De Plus of Belgium and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the 79th Paris Nice 2021 Stage 8 a 927km stage from Le PlanduVar to Levens 518m Breakaway Stage itinerary redesigned due to COVID19 lockdown imposed in the city of Nice ParisNice on March 14 2021 in Levens France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
Laurens de Plus at 2021 Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Ineos Grenadiers have confirmed that Laurens de Plus will take time away from racing for "a period of enforced rest" due to a recently-diagnosed viral illness.

The Belgian, who joined Ineos Grenadiers in January on a three-year deal, has not seen race action since April, when he finished 10th at the Gran Premio Miguel Indurain but then failed to complete all six days at Itzulia Basque Country. 

He posted to social media that his new priority is to take a break.

"The first job for me is to rest, then get back to physical activity step by step. The team will help me with regular meetings and medical checks to monitor how I am getting on over the next few months. Thankful for the incredible support by Ineos Grenadiers," De Plus said on his Twitter account on Wednesday.

A specific diagnosis of De Plus’ medical condition was not mentioned by the rider or the team at this time, but the team affirmed the decision for him to take a break from the bike.

"The team has worked hard alongside Laurens to diagnose the illness, with a period of enforced rest now required," the WorldTour team said in a statement released on Wednesday.

"Laurens has the full support of the team and we are looking forward to seeing him back on the bike soon."

The 25-year-old spent the last two years at Jumbo-Visma, winning the BinckBank Tour in 2019 as his top individual result, while riding to support Steven Kruijswijk at the Tour de France. His 2020 season was disrupted by a hip injury and the abbreviated calendar related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which saw him compete in only four events, completing just the first stage of the UAE Tour in February and riding at the back of the pack in La Flèche Wallone.

He started the 2021 season for Ineos Grenadiers with hopes of a full season after two training camps in Gran Canaria over winter, targeting the Ardennes Classics followed by the Tour de France in a domestique role. After racing Tour de La Provence and Paris-Nice, he noticed health issues during the Spanish race campaign.

"I've been too eager and I got a little carried away," De Plus told Dutch website Wielerflits earlier this year. "After the Tour of the Basque Country I was extremely tired. Due to a solid training block I became overtrained and it took quite a long time before I was back on my feet."

He then missed the Ardennes Classics in May, and did not participate in other targets, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France. This was to be a pause in his season, but De Plus has not been able to restart due to continued issues. In his sixth year racing at the WorldTour level, De Plus now takes a mandatory rest with no specific date to resume racing for Ineos Grenadiers.

In 2016, De Plus was part of the Belgian road team that took part in the Rio Olympic Games, supporting Greg van Avermaet to his gold medal. De Plus was not part of his national team squad in Tokyo.

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