Ineos leave Froome and Thomas out of Tour team
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