Laurens de Plus is one of the best and most reliable climbing domestiques in the peloton. He surged back to his best level this year and was a key part of INEOS Grenadiers' block before and during the Giro d'Italia and renewed with the team, despite the efforts of Soudal - Quick-Step to sign him.
“I am very pleased with that. Of course I worked for it too. Everyone knows what place I have within the team and what qualities I add. I fit in well there and hopefully I can become a permanent fixture for the Grand Tours," de Plus shared in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad. "This will be the main focus in the coming years. I would like to ride several Grand Tours a year. Maybe not all three like Sepp Kuss, but I would like to have two on my program every year.”
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De Plus is a rider with a passion for the Grand Tours and he's recently said that he wants to help the British team to win Grand Tours, whether that is with Geraint Thomas as almost happened in May, Carlos Rodríguez or other figures. A new three-year contract is sure to see the Belgian in action quite a lot more throughout three weeks and could be a key figure to support new signings as well - in the past, Evenepoel himself was linked to INEOS but that is ultimately an unlikely move for the time being.
“After the Giro it became clear quite quickly," he said of his agreement with the British team. "The handshake was already there somewhere in mid-June. I don't remember exactly whether I signed just before or after I left the Vuelta. I feel so good in the team that I didn't feel like leaving. INEOS is my third team. I receive the ideal support as a person and as an athlete. Everything is reasoned and how you feel as a person comes first. This seems like a promotional talk, but it's true. Things are sometimes different for other teams when injuries occur.”
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However he is aware of the very specific interest of Remco Evenepoel in having de Plus in his mountain block. “I knew about the interest and I thought about it, but I quickly indicated that I preferred to stay with Ineos," he says. The time-trial World Champion continues to seek more support in the mountains as he looks to contest all Grand Tours, and have at least a competitive team against the likes of Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates.
"Did Remco try to bring me in? Anyway, but everyone charts their own path. I feel at my best with this team. I had enjoyed myself so much in the Giro that my decision was made quite quickly. Remco called and texted me regularly. It was also discussed sometimes when we went for coffee together. One day it will happen that we will race together in a team, but not yet.”
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“I returned from a week's holiday in Dubai this week and I was eager to start training again. The fire is burning. I started it straight away on Thursday, despite storm Ciaran," he says of his training towards 2024. The 28-year old is eager to begin racing in a few months.
"Although, just to be on the safe side, I turned back in time. A week earlier than usual. Normally I start around mid-November, but I still have some catching up to do compared to the rest and I might want to start my season a little earlier.”