My first five race days with the INEOS Grenadiers, by Press Officer Hannah Troop.

When changing from one cycling team to another it’s not just about a new team kit and remembering which bus you have to go back to post stage, it’s a changing of pronoun as well. The changing of “we” to “they”. For the last two seasons, EF have been my “we” and INEOS Grenadiers were my “they”. It can take a few weeks to get your head around, but after this last week at Etoile de Bessèges, I think I’ve got it. 

Last Tuesday, as I drove past snow capped Pyrenean mountains on my way to Nîmes, those mountains stirred something within, I could feel adrenaline start to rise. After months of not being at a race excitement started to bubble. But like with any new job, when entering into unknown territory, not knowing anyone, anxiety levels can rise. As I pulled into the Logis Nîmotel, my first impression of the hotel was, “Ah really, five days here!” It’s peak was probably around the late 1980s. But as I pulled up, got out the team car, I had an instant sense of feeling welcome. Everyone directly around came over and introduced themselves. A major relief to those anxiety levels. 

After a few days of being with the team, when looking in the mirror one morning, I noticed more fine lines had started appearing around my eyes. Was it not drinking enough water I wondered? Maybe they had appeared as a result of not sleeping that well; a common ailment of work travel. It wasn’t until the end of the week I realised those fine lines were most likely due to all the laughing and smiling I had done whilst spending time with everyone. Note to self: less laughing and smiling at the next race!  
Besseges saw some top performances from the team, with Filippo and Kwiato getting on the podium

Besseges saw some top performances from the team, with Filippo and Kwiato getting on the podium

The week started badly for Ethan Hayter, after taking a tumble on stage two in the last few kilometres, but thankfully by stage four, Filippo Ganna showed once again how to nail risk taking racing and took the win. Seeing almost every rider fist bump him on his way past them, as we walked to the podium, left me with the impression that this team isn’t as disliked from the outside as you’re led to believe. On the last stage, after cracking performances from Hayter, Owain Doull and Michał Kwiatkowski, Ganna stood backstage of the podium once again after taking his second stage win in as many days. Adorned in his World Championship rainbow jersey, ready to accept another trophy, he explained to me how even he was quite blown away at how the rest of the peloton had responded to his win the prior day. 

As he and Kwiatkowski sat chatting together behind the podium, Kwiatkowski having also ridden a blinder of a time trial, moving himself from 4th to 2nd place on the last stage, they looked to be relishing every moment of their achievements.

From the outside in, results like these at a 2.1 race, would probably be thought to be small fry to a team with a palmares such as INEOS Grenadiers, but as Sport Director Servais Knaven said post stage four, that first win of the season means a lot, no matter where it comes from. It’s a good feed for the motivation levels. Everyone leaves with a smile, eager to get back to the next race and go after more. This change in racing style for the Grenadiers seems to be a great energizer. After Sunday’s stage as many of us parted ways, I could feel that post-race adrenaline wave still flowing. During the drive back down to Spain, what became apparent is my “we” pronoun has found its new place. Thanks for such a great welcome Grenadiers, it feels great to have come on board.