Since Egan Bernal became the first Colombian Tour winner last summer, many have wondered how Ineos would manage to balance having the last three Tour de France winners on the same team.The long-term aspect of the problem was partially addressed by the announcement of Chris Froome’s departure for Israel Start-Up Nation, and the riders mainly clung to Brailsford’s diplomacy mantra of whoever is stronger during the race will become the team leader.
The next question that has arisen as the race approaches is whether Chris Froome will even be part of Ineos’ eight-man squad. Froome became a loyal servant to Geraint Thomas in the 2018 Tour, but do the British squad really want three former winners to dream of the yellow jersey rather than a dedicated gregario who will whip himself all day for the greater good of the? team?
The Gazzetta dello Sport smell of the eight potential riders who will start in Nice on Saturday 29 August.
Egan Bernal of course makes the cut, as does Geraint Thomas, who Bradley Wiggins announced to win the 2020 title.
Next come former world champion Michał Kwiatkowski and road captain Luke Rowe, the Welshman set to make his sixth appearance in the three-week stage race. The reliable duo of Jonathan Castroviejo and Dylan van Baarle would also be on the bus, as would the promising young Russian Pavel Sivakov, leaving only one seat remaining.
Three runners should be in contention for the last place. Froome is one of them and faces competition from Tao Geoghegan Hart and new recruit Andrey Amador.
Geoghegan Hart has never been on the Tour before, but finished 20th in last year’s Vuelta a España, failing to complete the Giro d’Italia. Meanwhile, Andrey Amador was transferred from Movistar during the offseason, having been a key lieutenant for the Spanish squad, having even managed two Giro top 10 finishes during his career.
Whoever is part of the roster, they will be the first to compete as Ineos Grenadiers, with Jim Ratcliffe changing the team name to promote his company’s new 4 × 4 vehicle.
Thomas recently posted a snippet of the new kit on Instagram, the jersey reverting to dark blue, reminiscent of the Team Sky of yore, but with red Ineos stripes in the middle.