Jonathan Castroviejo proved to be one of Ineos’ key lieutenants as the British team rode to their first Tour de France victory under new sponsorship, and Egan Bernal picked up a first ever victory for Colombia.
The Spanish time trial specialist will once again provide domestique duties to whoever Ineos pick as their leader for the 2020 race, now boasting four Grand Tour winners among their roster in Bernal, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and the newly signed Richard Carapaz.
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Despite seven victories in the last eight years for his team, Castroviejo expects the competition to be tougher than ever next year. In 2019 Jumbo-Visma finished on the podium at the Tour with Steven Kruijswijk as well as winning a number of other races with Primož Roglič, most prominently the Vuelta a España.
“On the Tour you could see that Jumbo-Visma were very close. They have a very powerful team and have just completed a very good season,” Castroviejo told Es Ciclismo. “Others like UAE or Bahrain have a large budget. It is good for cycling that there is competitiveness. And, at the same time, that Ineos renewed to do things [with us] is even better.”
The Dutch squad will be further bolstered next year by the signing of Tom Dumoulin, while UAE Team Emirates have developing talents in Tadej Pogačar and Bahrain-Merida add Mikel Landa and Wout Poels to their ranks.
However, surprise challengers can come from anywhere. In 2019 it was Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) who only fell away in the last two days after putting up the biggest fight against Ineos, who were adjusting to sponsorship changes, which Castroviejo says made winning the Tour that bit harder.
“With the non-continuity of the sponsorship of Sky it was not easy to win the Tour again and the team did it. Above all, we found an Alaphilippe that at first was not seen as a rival,” Castroviejo said, “but we appeared in the last week of the Tour with him as leader and it was scary after what he showed on the Tourmalet.
“I knew that in the last two stages, at that point, nobody was going to be able to hold Egan. At 2,800 metres it is another story and he was able to do it in the end, to take enough of an advantage to win the Tour.”
The 32-year-old doesn’t expect Ineos’ phenomenal record of Tour wins to continue perpetually, but that winning the world’s biggest bike race will obviously continue to form the squad’s main goal for the season.
“The Tour is the Tour. You cannot always win, due to crashes, performance or simply because another rider is better. You have to accept it and that’s it. While the number one objective of this team is that we will always be there to try to win it, as long as no misfortune happens.”