Ineos Grenadiers are set to create a new mountain bike team, and bring Pauline Ferrand-Prévot to head it up alongside Tom Pidcock, which would mean signing their first female rider in the process.
A source close to the team confirmed to Cycling Weekly on Monday morning that the news was accurate, after initial reports in VeloNews.
The details of the arrangement are yet to be confirmed, but it is believed that Ferrand-Prévot, who has been world champion on the road, in cyclocross and across different MTB formats, has signed an agreement to race in Ineos colours for 2023.
The multi-disciplined star currently rides for the Absolute–Absalon–BMC team and is a four-time World XC champion.
The Frenchwoman currently holds the world titles in elite women's XCC short track, XCO cross-country, won in late August in Les Gets, France, and the XCM marathon won in Haderslev, Denmark in mid-September. She is the first to win all three titles in the same season.
Ferrand-Prévot will attempt to win her fourth world title of this season later this month after confirming that she will line up to compete at the inaugural UCI Gravel World Championships held on October 8-9 in Veneto, Italy. She has not raced on the road, apart from in national championships, since 2018.
Tom Pidcock, who is the reigning Olympic and European mountain bike XC champion, rides in Ineos colours on the road, in cyclocross and in mountain biking, but the latter two are very much an individual operation.
The announcement of a MTB specific Ineos Grenadiers squad suggests that the team's owner, Jim Ratcliffe, is diversifying his cycling portfolio away from just the road.
Pidcock is one of the biggest stars in the sport, a man who won on Alpe d'Huez at the Tour de France before winning European gold on his MTB, while he is also the reigning cyclocross world champion; a team set up around him does make sense. At present, he technically races as an independent when he goes off-road, even if he does wear an Ineos kit.
Pinarello, the current bike supplier at Ineos Grenadiers for road racing, does not manufacture a mountain bike and therefore Pidcock races on an unbranded BMC Fourstroke when he competes cross-country, although he uses a Crossista when doing cyclocross, their first CX bike in 30 years. With Ferrand-Prévot currently using a BMC in her MTB racing, this partnership could continue.
However, it has been previously reported that Pinarello are developing a mountain bike to be used by Pidcock, although it might not be ready until 2024.
Ferrand-Prévot and Pidcock might not be the end of signings to this proposed Ineos MTB team, but they will certainly be its stars.
Ineos Grenadiers declined to comment.
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