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With Ineos yet to announce its full roster for the upcoming Tour de France, reigning Tour champ Egan Bernal has said that he would like to see his team bring four-time Tour winner Chris Froome to the race, which starts in less than three weeks.
“He’s a rider who has a lot of experience,” Bernal told ITV when asked about the possible selection of Froome to the lineup. “For sure, to have a seven-time Grand Tour winner in the team is something important. So yes, for sure, I would like to have him in the team.”
Bernal’s comments come amid rampant speculation about Froome’s possible inclusion in the Ineos Tour team. The 35-year-old Briton won four Tours in five years between 2013 and 2017 and finished third in 2018 after winning the Giro d’Italia, but as he works his way back from serious injuries sustained last season, his form is a question mark as the Tour looms. What’s more, he is confirmed to be leaving Ineos for Israel Start-Up Nation at the end of the year, only leading to further questions about his place in the Tour team.
Froome and Bernal are both racing this week’s Critérium du Dauphiné. For Bernal, the race will be an opportunity to cement his status as a top Tour favorite. For Froome, it is a chance to prove that he belongs in the selection for the Tour at all.
Bernal gave Froome a vote of confidence in his conversation with ITV ahead of the race, but then, the 23-year-old Colombian is rarely one to ruffle feathers, memorably endorsing Geraint Thomas as his team’s GC leader even into the final week of the 2019 Tour he would go on to win.
At the end of the day, it will be Ineos principal Dave Brailsford and the rest of team brass who make the final call on the Tour roster.
“I think the most important goal for us should be to ride as a team and start to feel the real feeling of what we will have at the Tour,” Bernal said. “We will ride again as a team with a big goal that will be trying to be up there in the GC, but looking at the Tour de France more than anything else.”