Team Ineos created a team unity that allowed stars like Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas to turn into helpers in order to win the Tour de France.
Froome was aiming for his fifth title in 2018, but ended up helping Thomas to his first victory. This year, Thomas did likewise for 22-year-old Egan Bernal, who marked the team’s seventh victory in the French Grand Tour.
“Well, I think you never know who’s going to win, if it is a new rider or the one from last year, but the most important thing is to make sure you create a human side inside a competition,” sports director Nicolas Portal said.
“So of course, you always like to have both cards and both riders want to win, and but you have to create a unity in the group so that they fight for each other. And then at one point when you really want to play the both cards.”
That element shined clearly on stage 19 when Thomas first attacked and softened the bunch for Bernal’s move on the Col de l’Iseran. Bernal gained enough time to move into the yellow jersey when the race was eventually shortened due to a landslide.
Thomas then pulled for Bernal on stage 20 to ensure that they would defend the yellow jersey and help Ineos to win number seven, the first since it switched from its Sky sponsorship.
“I think they understood. We talked a lot about that we try to create a strategy to make sure they can have a chance to work like this and to use their potential not against each other,” Portal continued.
“It is is actually a lot of work because it’s not only like one week ago and ‘boom,’ but we worked from this winter. It’s a long, long process.”
Even Thomas pointed out that his first Tour victory came at 32, 10 years later in life compared to Bernal. The 22-year-old, the youngest winner in the modern era, has the space and time to collect further Grand Tour titles.
“I’m sure he’s got this whole future ahead of him and we are going to help him to to win as many Grand Tours as he can and what is crazy for us is we’ve got Froome, who is coming back stronger than he’s ever been. And G,” Portal added.
“Fair play to G because I actually know there’s not too many Grand Tour winners who can back up the original performance like this on the second year. He had a tough winter. It wasn’t easy ever, even in the Tour de Suisse when he was really good but had to abandon. So now I’m so proud for everyone, but chapeau for G.”