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GENOVA, Italy (VN) – Twelve stages into this Giro d’Italia, Ineos Grenadiers rookie Ben Tulett is well into new territory on what’s his grand tour debut after never previously raced anything longer than an eight-day event.
“I’m getting into a different area now, this is the first time I’ve got into double digits in terms of the number of stages I’ve done, but I’m enjoying the racing here,” the Brit told Velonews at the stage start in Parma.
At 20, Tulett is not the youngest rider in the Giro peloton, that honor going to Drone Hopper-Androni’s 19-year-old Ukrainian Andrii Ponomar, but he’s very much the junior member of an Ineos team where the average age is very close to 30.
But Tulett has already impressed, most obviously when finishing fifth in the Budapest time trial on day two, but also as one of team leader Richard Carapaz’s key lieutenants in the mountains.
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According to Ineos team boss Rod Ellingworth, Tulett was selected on merit for this role with the aim of him “doing a specific job,” but also with a view of gaining experience to support his own grand tour ambitions, which could well include him going the biggest prize at these three-week races. But that’s still in the future, Tulett confirmed.
“I didn’t come into this race with any GC aspirations. My role is to support Richie [Carapaz] as best as possible, which was a really exciting prospect for me at my first grand tour,” he said.
“I think it would certainly have been a big objective to go into my first grand tour and already be trying to do a GC. First of all, I want to learn how to ride these races and to do that with a champion like Richard [Carapaz] is really special.”
Asked what he’s learned over the opening half of his first grand tour, Tulett said that the primary thing is that the racing at the Giro is exciting, but can be extremely unpredictable.
“There’s no easy stages at the Giro, that’s very clear. Yesterday, for instance, there was a little bit of chaos thanks to the wind on the stage into Reggio Emilia. It was definitely tense. But I think we were all up there at the front and we were all up for it,” he explained.
During that section in the wind, Ineos took advantage of the tension in the bunch to take control coming into one of the intermediate sprints and then set up Carapaz for the chance to grab three bonus seconds that boosted him to second place overall.
“It was a spur of the moment thing. We saw that we could take advantage of it, so why not? It was three seconds gained. With this close, exciting racing, you never know how close the final classification can be, so why not take an opportunity like that?” Tulett said. “There have been moments like that where we’ve decided to take control of the race and to play our own cards, and that’s been exciting.
Once the race reaches the Turin stage on Saturday, Tulett should become more prominent in his principal role defending Carapaz’s interests in the hills and mountains.
He says that he’s relishing the challenge, but isn’t sure how his body will respond.
“I still feel strong at the moment, but I think that this is the moment where you start to feel the fatigue beginning to creep in,” Tulett said. “Like I said before, you never know what’s going to happen at the Giro, so we’ll wait and see what happens.”