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The 18-year-old has signed a three-year deal.
This year Leonard has raced for the Team Franco Ballerini in Italy, where he has scored a number of impressive results.
He won the Trofeo Madonna del Cavatore in early August as well as the Gran Premio Bermac Gara in May. The junior picked up two more one-day wins in April. He has been one of the standout performers in the junior ranks in Italy this season and sources have told VeloNews that Ineos were significantly impressed with his data from several tests.
He has not attended any training camps with the team up to this point. The move had been kept relatively low key with several riders and staff unaware of the signing until after VeloNews first broke the story.
“It’s really exciting for me to have this opportunity and I’m pretty proud of it because it suggests that people at the Ineos Grenadiers, who know a lot about cycling and GC riders, think I have the potential to do that in the future. I’m excited for the opportunity to learn in what I think is the very best team both in terms of riders and staff. The Grenadiers have a lot of experience in winning big races so I’ll get to learn from the best, which will be fantastic,” the rider said.
“Obviously for me the future goal is grand tours but outside of that a race I’d love to tackle is Il Lombardia which is probably the biggest race that a rider with my characteristics has a really good shot in. It would be a dream to be competitive in that one day as well.”
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The signing of Leonard enforces Ineos Grenadiers’ push for young talent in the wake of major changes on the roster. Adam Yates has signed for UAE Team Emirates, while Richard Carapaz, Dylan Van Barle, and Richie Porte have all either signed for new teams or in Porte’s case retired.
To fill gaps the British team has opted for youth over experience with newly crowed junior world time trial champion Joshua Tarling signed for the coming years. He will be joined by Leo Hayter, the winner of the Baby Giro this year. Thymen Arensman is one the of the oldest new recruits at just 22 years of age.
“Michael’s profile is certainly one that is really interesting, and he looks to have real potential. He’s very mature for his age, and the fact that he’s already spent so much time racing in Europe is really important,” said deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth.
“It’s also great that he has clearly been following our team closely, and the fact that he looks up to someone like Carlos [Rodriguez] bodes really well for us. We look forward to working with him and further unlocking his obvious potential. He’ll be joining a young but very exciting group of riders and has the potential to play a big part in our future.”
Michael Leonard 🤝 INEOS Grenadiers
We’re excited to announce that @mleonard04 will be turning pro with the Grenadiers in 2023.
Please join us in welcoming Michael to the team 👋 pic.twitter.com/mFot0YYlUp
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) September 22, 2022