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BELLEGARD, France (VN) — Following his transfer to Ineos Grenadiers after two seasons racing in Alpecin-Fenix colors, 20-year-old Ben Tulett has set his sights on making his grand tour debut in May’s Giro d’Italia, where the British team is set to be led by Olympic champion Richard Carapaz, winner of Italy’s national tour in 2019 and third in last year’s Tour de France.
Both Tulett and Carapaz are opening their season at the Étoile de Bessèges, five days of racing in the rolling, scrub-covered hills close to the Roman city of Nîmes in the south of France.
Speaking to VeloNews minutes before his competitive career with Ineos got underway, the young Briton admitted he was uncertain what the French race would bring, even though its punchy parcours with an uphill time trial to finish on day five appears a test for which he’s well suited.
“I’m not sure what to expect exactly this week with it being the first race after the winter training, but it’ll be good to dust off the cobwebs,” said Tulett. “I decided to get going early in the season with the aim of getting my legs used to racing again and also to have the chance to get to know my new teammates. This is, of course, my first season with the Grenadiers, and I’m really excited to get going.”
Tulett explained that his program for the early part of the season has been outlined. “But we’ll have to see how that goes,” he said.
He was 12th in Flèche Wallonne and 17th in the Amstel Gold Race last year, so the Ardennes Classics certainly suit his qualities, but the Giro is the only race he will confirm as being on his schedule for now.
“The plan is for me to make my grand tour debut at the Giro. That’s something that definitely excites me. I’m really hoping to be on the start line for that race in Hungary,” said Tulett.
The two-time world junior cyclocross champion has been keeping an eye on the discipline where he first came to the fore but says he has no regrets about focusing on the road since the start of last season.
“It always feels a bit funny watching the cyclocross because sometimes I do miss it, but I’m really relishing the road at the moment and this new team environment,” he said. “But I always enjoy watching it and it was good to see British Cycling doing so well at the world championships in the US last week.”
As it turned out, Tulett’s opportunity for a strong GC performance in Bessèges disappeared on the opening stage around Bellegarde, where gusting winds split the race and caused a number of crashes. The Ineos pro went down in one, falling on top of another rider’s bike, sustaining a cut to his knee and some other abrasions.
He was still in good spirits when he got back to the team bus, though, and should be ok to stay in the race.