INEOS LOOK LOST
What counts as a good year depends entirely on your perspective. Most teams would be delighted with a Giro win and six more stage race GC titles, four in the WorldTour. However, the impression is that Ineos Grenadiers underachieved in 2021 because though Richard Carapaz was third in the Tour de France, he never looked the equal of winner Tadej Pogacar.
But beyond that, something seems off. There isn’t the same air of dominance there was in the Sky years. Part of this is down to the fact they missed out on the preeminent rider of the decade so far - Pogacar. But Ineos feel like they are between eras. Bernal is a talent, but there are doubts about his back and whether he matches up to Pogacar or Roglic. That might seem harsh on a two-time grand tour winner, but he has not won against the very best since his Tour triumph in 2019. Past Bernal, Ineos have a lot of seven- or eight-out-of-10 riders, who can win week-long races, but are less convincing over three weeks: Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates, Richie Porte, Carapaz, Dani Martínez, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Pavel Sivakov. Three of these are grand tour winners, but they don’t give off the same air of invincibility as Pogacar and Roglic, or even Bernal. In the Chris Froome years, Sky/Ineos had the rider who would win the Tour, and a whole team built around this goal, and now that goal seems a bit lost. There were signs last year that Ineos would reinvent itself as an attacking team, but this has not always been evident. There are green shoots, such as Ethan Hayter and Tom Pidock, and some of the above riders are still promising, but this year Ineos looked a bit lost.