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SAINT-CHRISTOL-LEZ-ALES, France (VN) — Magnus Sheffield has been marked out as one of the hottest young talents in racing following his bronze medal in the junior road race at the 2019 world championships and last November’s world record-breaking ride at junior level in the 3,000-meter individual pursuit.
The American is making his debut with the Ineos Grenadiers this week at the Étoile de Bessèges but has his sights set on Paris-Roubaix and an appearance in US colors at the world track championships in Paris this coming fall.
Still only 19, the former skier from New York state spent day one of Bessèges working to keep Ineos team leaders Richard Carapaz and Filippo Ganna out of trouble on a stage swept by fiercely gusting winds.
“It was really windy day, we had echelons, it was really hectic, especially as this the first race of the season for a lot of these guys,” Sheffield told VeloNews just before the flag dropped to start stage 2. “It was really special to be wearing the jersey with the guys and to be racing here as a whole.”
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Sheffield signed with Ineos toward the back end of last season after parting ways with Rally Cycling. Having stepped up into the WorldTour with Ineos, his principal aim, he says, is simply to learn.
“The overall goal is just to build experience, especially in the classics and the early season, and then to see just how I can progress within the team. It’s really just about getting as much experience as possible,” he explained.
He added, though, that the plan laid out for him is for that experience to come at some of the biggest races on the international calendar, notably Paris-Roubaix and the world track championships in October.
“The really big ones I’d like to focus on are the classics, especially Roubaix,” said Sheffield. “But I’ll also do some other big stage races like Romandie, the Tour of Norway, possibly Hungary, and also some other WorldTour races. It’s really just a case of getting as much fitness as possible, and then being able to apply it where I can.”
Versatility and aggressive racing
Ineos team coach Dario Cioni had been tracking Sheffield’s progress for some time before the opportunity arose to sign the young American.
“Like a lot of juniors, Magnus was actually pretty unlucky because he lost basically one year due to COVID, and then he started as a pro with the Rally team,” Cioni told VeloNews Thursday morning before the stage start.
“I was in contact with him, just keeping in touch, and then, quite unexpectedly, there was an opportunity to bring him onto the team. I managed to get Dave Brailsford and Rod Ellingworth onside, and within the space of a day or two things changed completely, from him being just a rider I was talking to, to him being on the team, which was pretty good because he looks like a rider who can do pretty much anything.”
Already known for being an aggressive racer, Sheffield describes himself as an all-rounder and sees his three-year deal with Ineos as a way of seeing where that multi-talent will carry him.
“I’m quite punchy but I can also put out quite a bit of power as well and really keep it steady. So I’ll also focus on time trials and really progress in that area. But I really just like any kind of hard racing,” he said.
“He’s very versatile,” Cioni confirmed. “He’s just been at a track training camp with USA Cycling in Portugal. Although he set the world junior IP record, he hasn’t done a lot of racing on the track. The idea will be that towards the end of the season he will aim for the world track championships, which will be an important part of his development.
“This formula of mixing track and road racing has worked well with quite a lot of our riders – I also work with Filippo Ganna and Elia Viviani and track training is a really important part of their training programs. The plan is for Magnus to do a world cup event at least with the goal of qualifying for the world championships, and then to go to the world championships and try something.”
According to Sheffield April’s world cup event in Glasgow is currently on his program.
“It comes right after Roubaix and before Romandie. Obviously, I won’t have much experience of racing on the track, but I think I can use the road as good training and as a kind of building block,” the American explained.