Laurens De Plus says he "wanted to be left alone" while he recovered from 'viral fatigue' during most of 2021.
De Plus, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers, hasn't actually raced a kilometre for the British registered team since April 10 at the Tour of the Basque Country where he did not finish on the sixth stage.
The 26-year-old Belgian returned home to re-cooperate and to try and recover from his nagging hip injury as well as the fatigue that turned out to be caused by the leftovers of an unnamed virus.
Where is it we all go when unwell? Our parents, if we can. And that's what De Plus did.
"Honestly? I wanted to be left alone,” De Plus told Belgian media, reported Wielerflits (opens in new tab).
"Messages from fellow riders? I did get them, but I didn't answer them. A little selfish at the time, but a good friend understands.
"I desperately needed that rest. And some nest heat. So I went back to live with my parents. My brother and parents gave me peace and energy. And every few days I was in contact with the Ineos team management. It was amazing how I got there and still am supported."
De Plus said that Ineos has taken great care of him while he has been recovering adding "no team in the world takes better care of its riders than Ineos."
In 2019, De Plus was a vital cog for his then Jumbo-Visma team-mate, Primož Roglič but in 2020 he suffered a bad crash, injuring his hip, seeing him not race again after April. This year was similar, only he managed a few more races for Ineos before the break.
The ambition hasn't left De Plus but he says that keeping a low profile and getting enjoyment back is the priority.
"The road for the coming years has been mapped out, but I'm not going to explain it here. I hope you will understand that. I don't know yet where I will compete again. We will decide that last minute. But I'm initially aiming for smaller stage races. No competitions like Paris-Nice. That's for later.
"Having fun again is the first goal. I will probably start riding bigger races again towards the summer. Maybe even a Grand Tour. But I want to show the necessary flexibility in the first few months.
"Out of fear of relapse? No, not really. Rather because I want to maintain a low profile. That's how I was at my best in the past. The less pressure, the better I function. I don't feel like running past myself."
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