The 2020 Tour de France kicks off in Nice this weekend, but there will be some very notable absences on the start line.
This year, British Tour de France stars Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish will all be missing the race.
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Britain has been the dominant force in the Tour in recent years, with Cavendish becoming the most successful sprinter in Tour history while Thomas and Froome have been a force in the general classification.
But this year there are just four UK riders on the start list, and no British hopes for the yellow jersey (as Adam Yates is expected to chase stage wins with Mitchelton-Scott).
It’s not all bad news for British fans this year however as two young riders, Matt Walls and Jake Stewart, have recently announced they will be stepping up to WorldTour level next year.
In the women’s racing, Britain is still a formidable nation as Lizzie Deignan and Lizzy Banks took a thrilling one-two in the GP Plouay this week.
But with the Tour de France just a few days away, how are British fans reacting to the absence of Cavendish, Froome and Thomas?
Glyn Parry, from Somerset, said: “It’s expected, but sad.
“We have a lot of great talent coming up and if we can produce four winners of Grand Tours in a decade, why not more?”
That sentiment was echoed by John Fuller, from Hampshire who said: “I’m disappointed but not surprised. Both Froome and Thomas were struggling in the Dauphiné, although it’s difficult to know the whole story from watching TV. (Overall Ineos looked weaker than Jumbo Visma. However, I wonder whether Jumbo-Visma have peaked too early?)
“I think Ineos need to take a stronger lead in bringing through young British talent. I would like to have seen more Brits in the Tour de France team this year.
“Britain now knows how to win Grand tTurs and that experience won’t disappear. The next generation will be better than the last.”
In the last 10 years, Britain has won its first Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins in 2012, then had its first multiple winner in Chris Froome, and seen the first Welshman win the yellow jersey in Geraint Thomas.
Mark Cavendish has also racked up 30 Tour de France stage wins during his career, while Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) became the first Brit not riding for Team Ineos to win a Grand Tour at the 2018 Vuelta a España.
On Britain’s biggest stars, Sharron salt said: “This sport can no longer justify anybody’s inclusion regardless of nationality and past glories. It’s too competitive and expensive.”
“But I will still love everything about the Tour de France – the spectacle, the drama.”
On the future of British racing, Andrew Maddocks from Stockport said: “In all honesty the performance of British riders hasn’t been my prime motivator. I’m inspired by good riders, of any nationality. It’s great when Brits win, but not the be all and end all.
“Adam or Simon Yates have the more immediate potential but others could make it, Tao Geoghegan-Hart or Tom Pidcock? “