Ineos-Grenadiers announced on Thursday that the team will be signing Ontario’s Michael Leonard to their team for a three-year deal.
The 18-year-old from Oakville, Ont., who is currently racing as a second year junior in Italy, has won eight races so far in 2022, including the overall at Tour du Leman after a dominant stage two victory. He also won races such as the Memorial Paolo Batignani, Gran Premio Bermac Gara and Trofeo Sopegu, among others.
Leonard started out splitting his time on the road and the track but with a natural climbing ability and appreciation for time trialling, he now aims to grow as an accomplished G.C. rider of the future.
“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 G.C. 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.” Leonard said in a statemenent.
The Canadian is thrilled to be riding with such a well-known team, and hopes he can learn from some of his heroes.
“As a youngster I watched Chris Froome and in the current team I look up to Carlos Rodriguez. He’s followed a similar pathway to what I see as the dream for myself and this year he’s really broken out. To follow in his footsteps would be fantastic,” Leonard said. “Obviously for me the future goals involve the 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.”
Leonar said that 2022 has been a great year and he is grateful to his Italian squad, Team Franco Ballerini.
“This year, I am most proud of first race I won, the Ballerò nel Cuore because the team did a really great job and it was pretty special to win my first race in Italy in honor of Ballerini,” the Canadian said. “I am also prooud of ny ride at the Tour du Léman because I showed a good progression, last year I won the youth jersey, and this year I won a stage, the KOM jersey, the sprint jersey, and the G.C. by 4 minutes.”
Lenoard now is focusing on the world championships in Australia and hoping for a good result in the road race.