At the Giro del Veneto on Wednesday, the 20-year-old was among the aggressors on the steep climb of Il Roccolo in the finale before playing a policing role in the chasing group before victory fell to his teammate Xandro Meurisse. In 2022 the 20-year-old Briton will ride for Ineos Grenadiers.
“I’m moving on now, so it was a fitting way to end the year with the team,” Tulett said at the finish in Padova.
It was just his third race on Italian roads, after placing 21st at Il Lombardia and eighth at the Coppa Agostoni, but he appeared to have picked up the nuances quickly, tracking moves from UAE Team Emirates on the day’s final climb.
“I knew I was coming here with good condition,” he said. “I really like this style of racing to end the year.”
Tulett graduated directly from the junior ranks to the professional peloton two years ago, and it was perhaps only fitting that a rider who had won a cyclo-cross world title in the discipline would make the step with Mathieu van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix squad, who had begun to parlay their off-road success onto the road.
The young Briton impressed immediately with fifth place at the 2020 Tour of Antalya, but he would have to wait until August to race again due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown suspending racing.
The time away did little to stunt his progress.
“I think the key was staying calm, focusing on yourself and realising it’s a bigger picture than cycling,” said Tulett, who finished his truncated debut season by becoming the youngest rider to complete Liège-Bastogne-Liège in over a century.
Assured displays followed in his 2021 sophomore year, as Tulett placed 12th at Flèche Wallonne and ninth overall at the Tour de Pologne, before again catching the eye with his October performances on Italian roads. By then, of course, it had already been confirmed that Tulett would move up to the WorldTour with Ineos Grenadiers in 2022.
“I came straight up from the juniors to the professional peloton so I knew it was going to be a big step, and slowly I’m climbing the ladder upwards,” Tulett explained.
“I’ve been happy with this season, with some good races and some bad. But I’m happy that I’ve learned a lot about myself, and now I’m really looking forward to the next chapter with Ineos Grenadiers.”
Developing carefully with Inoes Grenadiers
Tulett will join Tom Pidcock at Ineos Grenadiers, but unlike the Olympic mountain bike champion, he will not partake in any off-road racing this winter. Instead, Tulett will focus on preparing steadily for his first campaign in the WorldTour.
“This winter I just want to focus on the road ambitions for the moment, but I would never completely say that I would never come back to cyclo-cross,” he said. “Maybe one day.”
Since its inception as Team Sky in 2010, Ineos Grenadiers have, rightly or wrongly, acquired a reputation for a prescriptive approach to training and racing. Yet Pidcock, for one, has been handed the freedom to blend his off-road activities with his burgeoning WorldTour career.
Tulett, for his part, does not envisage any issues in adapting to the philosophy of his new team.
“In the end, I just love bike racing,” he said.
“Whether it’s mountains, time trialling or Classics, I love it all and I want to be the very best I can be wherever I’m racing. If that’s working for the team or going for victory myself, I want to do that 100 per cent to the best of my ability, which I feel goes along with the ethos of the team from the very beginning.
“I want to do everything to my absolute best and if that means training six hours, it means training six hours. I feel like the ethos of the team fits my character. I guess we’ll see in the next few years, but for the moment I’m very excited about my next step.”
When Ineos Grenadiers announced Tulett’s arrival last month, the Kent native outlined his intention to develop into a general classification rider.
“To win the Tour [de France] is my big long-term ambition,” Tulett said at the time. In Italy this week, he explained that although his goals are lofty, the schedule will not be hurried.
“We’ll see how my development goes, really,” he said.
“I don’t want to rush my development. I’ll go at my own pace and we’ll go as quickly as that is. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself and say I have to be x, y and z in two or three years’ time, we’ll see how my development goes.”