Ineos leave Froome and Thomas out of Tour team

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tom Cary

Tour de France win­ners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have missed out on se­lec­tion for this year’s race, which be­gins in Nice a week on Satur­day.

Froome, the four-time cham­pion, and Thomas, who be­came the first Welsh­man to win the Tour in 2018 and fin­ished run­ner-up last year, will in­stead tar­get the Vuelta a Es­pana and the Giro d’Italia re­spec­tively.

Egan Ber­nal will lead Ineos Gre­nadiers – as they have been re­named – in France, with last year’s Giro win­ner Richard Cara­paz drafted in to act as a sec­ond pro­tected rider. An­drey Amador, Jonathan Cas­tro­viejo, Michal Kwiatkowsk­i, Luke Rowe, Pavel Si­vakov and Dylan van Baarle com­plete the line-up.

Sir Dave Brails­ford, the Ineos prin­ci­pal, has a rep­u­ta­tion for prag­ma­tism rather than sen­ti­ment when it comes to big se­lec­tion calls. He de­nied Sir Bradley Wiggins the chance to de­fend his Tour ti­tle in 2013, or ride on home roads in 2014. Froome has bat­tled back from a ca­reer-threat­en­ing in­jury at last year’s Cri­terium du Dauphine, and his pres­ence in France would have com­pleted a re­mark­able come­back. The 35-year-old, who joins Is­rael Start-Up Na­tion next sea­son, had hoped to go for a record-equalling fifth Tour win. He will now have to try to do that with his new team. Thomas, mean­while, has been vir­tu­ally an ever-present in the team’s Tour line-ups, miss­ing out only in 2012 when he tar­geted, and won, the Olympic team pur­suit ti­tle in­stead.

The signs had been there. The World Tour re­sumed at the start of Au­gust, and while Ber­nal, of Colom­bia, has looked in de­cent form, winning the Route d’Oc­c­i­tanie and fin­ish­ing sec­ond at the Tour de l’Ain, Froome and Thomas have been no­tice­ably off the pace. By bring­ing in Cara­paz and dis­pens­ing with his two most ex­pe­ri­enced and suc­cess­ful Grand Tour riders, Brails­ford has shown typ­i­cal ruth­less­ness. “I am very proud that we have sev­eral cur­rent, and I am sure fu­ture, Grand Tour cham­pi­ons in the team,” he said. “Se­lect­ing the right leader in the right race with the right sup­port team is crit­i­cal.

“Egan will once again tar­get the yel­low jer­sey in France and we are very ex­cited to give last year’s Giro win­ner, Richard Cara­paz, his de­but in this year’s Tour also. Geraint will tar­get the Giro and take on the op­por­tu­nity to dou­ble up his Tour de France win with an­other Grand Tour ti­tle, with the aim of be­ing the first Welsh­man to win it.

“In turn, Chris Froome will tar­get the Vuelta. Chris is a leg­end of our sport, a true cham­pion who has demon­strated in­cred­i­ble grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion to come back from his crash last year. We want to sup­port him to com­pete for an­other Grand Tour ti­tle and the Vuelta gives him that lit­tle bit more time to con­tinue his progress to the top level.”

There will be some Bri­tish in­ter­est in this year’s gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion, in the shape of Adam Yates (Mitchel­ton-Scott). But with 30time stage win­ner Mark Cavendish not ex­pected to make the BahrainMcL­aren line-up, it feels like the end of an era for Bri­tish cy­cling – a decade and a half of un­prece­dented suc­cess on the sport’s big­gest stage.

Miss­ing out: Geraint Thomas (left) and Chris Froome will not ride the Tour

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