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Giro d'Italia

Q&A Ben Tulett: Ineos Grenadiers rookie talks pulling for Carapaz and praise from Porte at Giro d’Italia

Second-youngest rider in the race Ben Tulett entering 'unexplored territory' with key role in very first grand tour.

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NAPOLI, Italy (VN) – At 20 years and 253 days old, Ben Tulett is the second-youngest rider at this year’s Giro d’Italia. But that’s not stopping the pocket rocket climber in his debut season with Ineos Grenadiers.

Tulett finished just four seconds behind Mathieu van der Poel’s punch into the pink jersey in his first-ever grand tour stage last week. Twenty-four hours later, the Brit blasted to a fifth-place finish in the Budapest TT to confirm he’s not only about the uphill.

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Tulett only needed 13 days to jump to his first victory in an Ineos jersey at the Coppi e Bartali this March and is now poised to make hay in the mountains as he pulls for Richard Carapaz at this year’s Giro.

We spoke to Ineos Grenadiers’ newest “next big thing” as he braced for the Blockhaus summit showdown that will close the Giro’s first Italian phase:

VeloNews: This is your first grand tour. How does it feel to be taking that on in a team with such big ambition?

Ben Tulett: We’re going into unexplored territory, so we have to take it as it comes a little bit. But I know for sure my ambition is to help Richie [Carapaz] do as well as possible in general classification. I just want to support him as best as possible.

VN: You’re the youngest rider in the Giro but are in a team stacked with grand tour talent. Riche Porte in particular has been singing your praises. How is that experience?

BT: It’s amazing to be in a team here with so many champions and so many experienced riders. It’s really, really exciting. And I’m really enjoying spending time with Richie Porte. He’s really guided me well, and I’m really, really enjoying doing this race with them. I can feel myself learning from them.

VN: You took on your first major WorldTour summit finish in the Etna stage this week. Quite the baptism of fire I guess?

BT: It was a bit frustrating because I had a gear issue at the bottom and had to have a bike change, so I’m a bit disappointed I couldn’t help the boys more in the final. We’ve still got two and a half weeks to go so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s still a shame I couldn’t help more towards the finish of my first big mountain stage. But from what I saw, you can tell the level is super high here, the whole level seems to be really good.

VN: Ineos Grenadiers rolled out the carriages of its mountain train on Etna. What do you see as your role in the coming mountain stages and the climb to Blockhaus on Sunday?

BT: At the moment it’s just the goal for me to be up there and to see how the race pans out and how it evolves. But the general goal is to give the best support possible. We all believe in Richie’s [Carapaz’s] abilities, he’s a great champion. We’re all willing to go all-in for him and of course that’s the same for me too.

VN: There’s a whole new generation of extra-talented young riders at Ineos Grenadiers with you, Tom Pidcock, Magnus Sheffield, Luke Plapp, and Ben Turner in the team. And all of you are winning early! How is it to be a part of that? 

BT: Yeah, we’ve got a really nice group of young riders coming up in the team. We seem to get on well, so it makes a big difference. It’s exciting to be a part of that and I’m really enjoying my time here.

For me, Magnus, Ben [Turner] all to get off to a good start this year creates a really good team spirit. I think we’re all bouncing off of it and for sure that helps. We’re all happy to see each other do well. We’ve certainly got a good team spirit going on.

VN: You’re a double junior cyclocross world champion, but it’s been some time since you raced on the nobbly tires. Does being on a team with Tom Pidcock inspire to mix your program?

BT: For the moment, I want to focus on my road ambition. So yeah, that’s my priority at the moment, but I never say I wouldn’t go back to ‘cross. You know, I’m sure I’ll be back in the mud one day, but the moment I’m fully focused on the road.