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As Ineos announced its Tour de France roster selection on Wednesday, Ineos team principal Dave Brailsford gave some context on the team’s decision to leave both Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome out of the team and revealed that both Egan Bernal and Richard Carapaz will be targeting yellow this year.
In a short video, Brailsford said that Chris Froome still needs more time to reach the desired level to contend in a Grand Tour as he continues to recover from the injuries he suffered in his 2019 crash. As such, Froome will lead the team at this year’s Vuelta a España, a race he was won twice in his career, instead of riding the Tour.
“Everybody must admire Chris’s return to racing. It’s just unbelievable what he’s achieved, his determination,” Brailsford said. “But I think he needs just that little bit more, a little but longer to get to the highest level. He’s a champion, Chris Froome’s one of the legends of the sport and he deserves the opportunity to go into a Grand Tour as the leader as well.”
As for Thomas, Brailsford explained that the team felt the Welshman should have a chance to lead the charge at a Grand Tour – but that race will be the Giro d’Italia and not the Tour.
“Geraint has been second at the Tour, first at the Tour the year before, this guy needs a big challenge,” Brailsford said. “He needs a big platform. We decided to give Geraint the opportunity of focusing and going for the Giro. A Welshman has never won the Giro. It’s a big race. He’s won the Tour. I think backed up with the Giro it would be terrific. Three time trials, the mountains suit him, it’s a pretty good Grand Tour for him.”
Brailsford did not go into detail as to why Ineos decided to change plans for Thomas, who was originally slated to be a co-leader for the Tour alongside Bernal, although Thomas did not factor in the GC battle in either of his past two racing appearances at the Tour de l’Ain and Critérium du Dauphiné.
Instead of pairing either Froome or Thomas with Bernal at the upcoming Tour, Ineos has decided to bring Carapaz. The squad signed the 2019 Giro champ this past offseason and originally intended to send him to this year’s Giro, but plans have changed.
“The decision we’ve come to and what we’re very excited about is that we’re going to get Egan and Richard to target yellow, go after the yellow jersey once again,” Brailfsord said.
He went on to say that the team has high hopes for the combination of both Bernal and Carapaz at the Tour. Bernal was in the thick of the GC battle at the Daupiné before abandoning the race with back pain, while Carapaz won a stage and was leading the recent Tour of Poland before crashing and ultimately pulling out of the race.
“Egan’s come into this race block and he’s done tremendously,” Brailsford said. “He was performing very, very well in [the Critérium du Dauphiné] so he’s deserved this position as the outright leader for the Tour. We brought Richard in, we’ve got an idea that there’s a combination there that we think works. Richard’s excited about it, we’re excited about it, and we want to really use those guys together.”
Brailsford also had high praise for Pavel Sivakov, who is set to make his Tour debut after strong showings at La Route d’Occitanie and the Dauphiné, saying that the team wants him at “the front end of the race.”
Backing Bernal, Carapaz, and Sivakov will be Andrey Amador, Jonathan Castroviejo, Luke Rowe, Dylan van Baarle, and Michael Kwiatkowski.
With no Froome or Thomas in the team, the selection certainly marks a significant change from years past; Ineos has not gone to the Tour without at least one of the two since 2009. Brailsford is nonetheless confident that the new-look roster would be in a place to contend at this year’s race.
“We’ve been looking at how we think we can win this race,” he said. “We’ve got some ideas about maybe a slightly different approach than we’ve taken in the past, but we’ve got a good game plan and we think that these are the guys to deliver on that and give us the best possible opportunity.”