Who is Kim Heiduk, Ineos Grenadiers' young German signed to bolster their sprint and Classics options?

The 21-year-old spent three years at the U23 team Lotto-Kern Haus

Kim Heiduk
(Image credit: Getty)

The start of the season always heralds questions like "who does X ride for now?' and queries such as "who's that riding for them?"

One rider who many spectators will be saying those exact words about in the coming weeks is Kim Heiduk, one of five riders under the age of 22 that Ineos Grenadiers signed this winter.

They handed him in his first WorldTour contract at the age of 21 after three seasons with the development outfit Lotto - Kern Haus, his only two wins coming last spring with a stage at the Tour d'Eure-et-Loir and taking the U23 German national road race title.

Aside from results databases showing his solid but not mighty-impressive results as an U23 rider, very little is known about the German. And believe us on that: aside from Ineos' own article announcing the signing, you have to scour the depth of the internet to even find some quotes attributed to him. Therefore, Cycling Weekly decided to investigate a little further and ask the man himself.

"I started racing aged 10 and at 14 I chose cycling over football as I was winning a lot until I was 15," Heiduk says. "But then I started my apprenticeship when I was 16 and I started to develop later. I wasn't bad, but I wasn't the best rider in Germany."

An apprenticeship, he says, just like his fellow German Georg Steinhauser is doing concurrently with his job as a pro rider for EF Education-Easy Post. "More or less the same one!" Heiduk laughs. "I'm not sure of the name in English but it's working with metal. I did it earlier than him though, finishing when I was 17.

"It was full time, 7am until 4pm, full days working. At the time it was OK, but now it would have been a lot harder."

After that, the Bayern Munich fan (he insists he doesn't support the perennial Bundesliga champions just became they win all the time) began racing for the German team Lotto - Kern Haus, and he emerged as a rider comfortable racing sprints and across lumpy terrain.

"I have to say that those three years were really important to me. I am maybe more late into my development than others, and they allowed me to learn, giving me the chance of racing with older guys and U23s. I never had pressure racing and last year I got the chance to go and win some races."

With Elia Viviani's return to Ineos Grenadiers, Tom Pidcock's excellence and Ethan Hayter proving that he is capable of winning fast finishes and on Classics-type parcours, Heiduk has been brought in to bolster their options in such races.

"It's one of the biggest teams in the world, and they are also changing a bit from the past," Heiduk says of his new employees.

"Look back five years ago and they were more of a Grand Tour and stage race team, but now they are more interested in other races like the Classics and Elia for the sprints. 

"They have a different mindset. Stage racing is the most important racing for the team, but they don't only want to be good at that."

Can Heiduk be a threat? "The team don't put any pressure on me, and I'm not sure if I can win a race this year as I have a lot to learn, but we will see.

"I want to do my work for the team first and a goal would be hopefully later this year I can go for a sprint or have more of a free role in some races. 

"I like the Classics, cobbles, colder weather and I also like the chaos in fighting for position before a sprint."

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Heiduk made his debut for Ineos at the recent Etoile de Bessèges and is expecting to be part of the team's roster during Opening Weekend, the races Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne - Brussels - Kuurne the traditional season openers.

He will be getting plenty of opportunities in the races that suit him, more experiences to continue his changing life.

"It's clear that I have to work harder than before," he said. "I can now say that cycling is not a hobby anymore - it is my job.

"Things have definitely changed. I can't say them all as there are so many different things, but even my English skills are much better now than what were a few weeks or a month ago.

"I was really nervous before the first of two training camps, but I now I feel really good in the team, welcomed, and I'm looking forward."

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