Chris Froome has said Egan Bernal is prepared to support him at the 2020 Tour de France if the four-time champion proves to be the strongest rider in the Ineos roster.
In an interview on France Télévisions, Froome was asked whether Bernal, the 2019 Tour winner, is prepared to support him in his comeback Tour following serious injury.
“He has said he is,” Froome said, then hinting that Ineos will once again give team leadership responsibilities to whoever is the strongest rider amongst their illustrious squad: “I need to be the strongest. If he’s the strongest, then I’ll be happy if he wins, because that’s how racing goes – the strongest rider wins.”
22-year-old Bernal claimed his maiden Tour de France victory this year, taking the yellow jersey after attacking on the Col de l’Iseran before the stage was shortened because of landslides, with organisers moving the finish line to the summit of the climb. This resulted in Bernal finding himself in the race lead with just two days left.
2018’s winner, Geraint Thomas, finished second behind Bernal, and has said he may target the Giro d’Italia next year, with places at the Tour de France set to be highly sought after within the British team.
“Even if I did the Giro, it would still excite me and get me out of bed in the morning,” Thomas said. “I’m going to wait at least until I see the courses, the routes for the Giro and the Tour, and then go from there.”
Ineos will boast four Grand Tour winners in 2020, with Richard Carapaz joining from Movistar, having won the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
Froome has been targeting a Tour de France comeback ever since a freak accident put a stop to his 2019 Tour campaign. The 34-year-old suffered multiple fractures and lost four pints of blood after a crash during a TT recon at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
However, Froome is back riding on the road 14 weeks later, and will take part in critériums this autumn as he continues regaining form and working towards his goal of winning a record-equalling fifth Tour de France.
The Kenyan-born Brit was also asked by France Télévisions if he would consider retiring if he managed to secure another Tour title, to which Froome responded: “No, no, no. I’m not like that.
“Everyone tells me that I should stop when I’m at the top, but I love cycling and I want to continue. If I can’t win, then I will help someone else who can win. I’ve won four Tours, I’m short of at least one more victory.”