If Ineos select their Tour de France squad, and it isn’t preceded by months of rumour and “the road will decide” quotes, will they even be on the start line for the French Grand Tour?
Since Egan Bernal became the first Colombian Tour winner last summer, many have wondered just how Ineos would manage to balance having the last three winners of the Tour de France in the same team.
The long-term aspect of the problem was partially solved by the announcement Chris Froome would be leaving for Israel Start-Up Nation, and riders have mostly held to the Brailsford diplomacy mantra of whoever is strongest during the race will become the team leader.
The subsequent question that has arisen as the race approaches is whether Chris Froome will even make it into Ineos’ eight-man squad. Froome turned faithful domestique to Geraint Thomas at the 2018 Tour, but do the British squad really want three former winners dreaming about the yellow jersey rather than a dedicated gregario who will flog themselves all day long for the greater good of the team?
La Gazzetta dello Sport have got a whiff of the potential eight riders who will take the start line in Nice on Saturday August 29.
Egan Bernal of course makes the cut, as does Geraint Thomas, who Bradley Wiggins has tipped to take the 2020 title.
Then comes former world champion Michał Kwiatkowski as well as road captain Luke Rowe, the Welshman set to make his sixth appearance at the three-week stage race. The dependable duo of Jonathan Castroviejo and Dylan van Baarle are also said to be on the bus, as is promising Russian youngster Pavel Sivakov, leaving just one place remaining.
Three riders are set to be in the running for the final spot. Froome is one of them, and faces competition from Tao Geoghegan Hart and new signing Andrey Amador.
Geoghegan Hart has never ridden the Tour before, but finished 20th in last year’s Vuelta a España having been unable to finish the Giro d’Italia. Meanwhile, Andrey Amador was brought over from Movistar in the off-season, having been a key lieutenant for the Spanish squad, even managing two top-10 finishes in the Giro during his career.
Whoever does make it into the line-up, they’ll be the first to compete as the Ineos Grenadiers, 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 returning to dark blue, reminiscent of the Team Sky of old, but with red Ineos stripes down the middle.