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Laurens De Plus: ‘I’ve come back stronger in every way’

'A career never goes in just one way and everyone has setbacks,' says Ineos Grenadiers rider.

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Laurens De Plus has already raced more in 2022 than he did in 2021 and 2020 combined.

It’s a statistic that puts into perspective just how far the Belgian has come after two wrecked seasons that saw him barely race.

De Plus signed for Ineos Grenadiers in 2020 off the back of a strong start to his career at Jumbo-Visma. However, his career as a potential grand tour rider came to an abrupt halt due to post-viral fatigue. He was unable to train or race and his entire ability to recover from either endeavor left him drained.

He only returned to full-time training in September of last year and has now racked up 26 days of racing in 2022. His latest outing saw him help Ineos to two stage wins in the Tour de Romandie, and while the 26-year-old will now take a short break after a long spring he already has hopes of making the British team’s roster for the Vuelta a España later this year.

Also read: Laurens de Plus looking to bounce back with Ineos Grenadiers

“I’m doing my job and the team is really happy with the role that I have. It’s all positive news. For me the big win this year would be making the team for the Vuelta a España,” he told VeloNews at the end of six days of racing in Switzerland.

“I’m taking it step-by-step after my illness and I’m happy to be moving in the right direction. I hope to have a good summer with a big block of racing before making another big step for the Vuelta. At the moment I hope that the Vuelta is on the plan. I’m on the long list but it’s not easy to make the selection on this team. I’ll go for it.”

His enforced break from the sport saw De Plus completely step back from professional cycling. He moved home to his parents’ house and didn’t touch the bike for months. Although his primary problems were physical, there was a mental aspect to his time away too. He has come back to the sport with a sense of perspective, however, and a huge appreciation for the support that has huddled around him.

“A career never goes in just one way and everyone has setbacks,” he said. “I had a big one last year and I need to find my place again in the team. It means that logically I’m in a different role to the one I started with at the team but that’s okay with me. I’m happy, I’m healthy, and after last year that’s the most important aspect for me.

“After Basque Country last year, I got sick. I took a big break in the summer and then re-started in September. Body and mind are one thing so it was a bit of both but I had post-viral fatigue. It was a big setback. I learned that I was really grateful for my team. They kept patient with me and they kept believing in my talent. They want to bring me back to my top level. I also learned that you don’t need to live at 110 percent and that you need to be happy in life at 99 percent.

“For anyone who has struggled with what I have… I think it’s possible to come back stronger like I have in every way. I never thought I’d stop forever. I had a good time around me, but of course, it was a hard time.”

De Plus is scheduled to race the Tour de Hongrie later this month.