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The 22-year-old from Doncaster in the United Kingdom turned professional with the British squad this year. Throughout this year’s classics campaign, Turner has been seen pulling along the peloton, and his teammates, on many an occasion.
One of his most notable performances came early on when Ineos missed the key split on the Taaienberg during the E3 Saxo Bank Classic. Though he did receive some help from his teammates, Turner did a huge shift on the front to bring leaders Dylan van Baarle and Jhonatan Narvaez back into contention.
“I’m a big guy and I’m there to sit on the front, I like doing it and I’m quite good at positioning. I fit quite well in that role and over the last two races I’ve leveled up myself. I made that gap to the front group a little bit. Today, I did that, and we’ll see for the future what it will bring. This year is all about learning,” Turner said after Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday.
Turner has some experience in riding the cobbles, having contested Paris-Roubaix Espoirs and the junior Tour of Flanders in the past. However, he cut his teeth in cyclocross and raced for a time on the same team as Mathieu van der Poel.
His road programs have increased in recent years, but this season is his first concerted effort on the cobbles.
Turner’s own development through this year’s classics hit a peak at Dwars door Vlaanderen when he and teammate Tom Pidcock escaped in the key breakaway on the Berg ten Houte with around 7km to go. He had been drilling it on the front on the run into the climb, pushing a high pace on the lower slopes of it and helping — along with Pidcock and others — to force the key split.
With Pidcock eventually finishing in third place, it was also a big step forward for the Ineos Grenadiers team, too.
“We have some great riders now. They’re young and we have the ambition to be aggressive but smart aggressive. Today we really had it on point, but I think we can be proud of that. We maybe didn’t win but we did the things right and I think we can be happy,” Turner said.
“We leveled up a bit and we got the tactics right. We had two in the front group and it’s really positive coming into the big one at the weekend. Actually, my legs were pretty lead-like after Gent-Wevelgem but to do that performance with those legs is a real positive going forward. Step-by-step, I’m getting there and little man Tom he’s coming and that’s a real positive for us. It will be a big boost for us come these next races.”
After being caught on the back foot last week at E3, Ineos went into Dwars door Vlaanderen with the aim of making the race and not following it. Though not everything went as the team had hoped for — Pidcock and Turner were caught by surprise when Victor Campenaerts made his first attack from the breakaway group with just under 20km to go — there was a lot to take from the race for Turner and the team itself.
“We had a plan, we weren’t waiting anymore and we were going to take it on and be aggressive. We did that on whatever climb it was, I’m a bit blank now [Berg ten Houte, -ed]. We had a plan, but unfortunately, it didn’t quite go to plan,” he said.
“Campenaerts kicked it off quite early and that kind of put us on the back foot and then I had to use my legs to close that. I was full dying after that, and I had to pull it a bit. It’s a shame Tom wasn’t with them two at the front because he was flying today, and we had it down for a top result but for a podium we can be really happy, I think.”
Next up for Turner will be his elite debut at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, where he’s hoping to help the team climb further up the podium steps.
“We’ll for sure go to win, there’s no other outcome we want. Let’s see. We’re a strong group and we just want to go and have fun,” Turner said.