The Ineos era at the Tour de France may have come to an end, as the British WorldTour team look highly unlikely to win the yellow jersey in 2020.
Since winning their first Tour with Bradley Wiggins in 2012 Ineos Grenadiers, formerly Team Sky, have won seven of the last eight editions with four different riders.
Sean Yates, former Team Sky sports director who guided Wiggins to Tour victory, has shared his thoughts on an unusual edition of the race.
Yates, a former Tour de France stage winner himself, said: “No one expected what happened to Bernal yesterday.
“For [Ineos] it’s a massive change of position: they’ve been dictating for x amount of years and suddenly they’re like ‘this isn’t what we normally do’.
“When you’ve got the strongest rider in the race and you’ve got the strongest team it’s not that complicated, it’s just about doing it in the right way.
“Now they’re in the position other teams have been in for the last eight years - ‘Oh s*** we’re just going to sit here and pick up the scraps.’”
Jumbo-Visma have been by far the strongest team in the 2020 edition of the race, winning three stages with Roglič and Wout van Aert so far and controlling the pace on all the major climbing days in the way Ineos became famous for over the years.
Heading into the second rest day, Roglič leads the Tour by 40 seconds over his fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
Yates has been impressed by the development of Jumbo-Visma in to a Grand Tour-winning machine, particularly the performance of their ultra-domestique and sprinter Wout van Aert.
He said: “It’s great team around [Roglič] who have really taken it to Ineos with their approach, their rider recruitment, their nutrition. They’ve really upped the ante. Ineos have had the ball in their court for a long time and other teams, either because of the budget or whatever, were not able to match them in that.”
On Van Aert, Yates said: “To set tempo on a climb and get rid of guys like Nairo Quintana and win the bunch sprints has never been done before. Sean Kelly could win sprints but it wasn’t the same years he was riding up mountains shelling the climbers.
“It’s all about the watts. He just seems to be getting stronger and stronger and more of an all rounder.”
Yates says the final week of the Tour will come down to a dual between Pogačar and Roglič, with the 21-year-old Pogačar trying to claim back any seconds he can in time bonuses and on the uphill finishes, before the final uphill time trial on La Planche des Belles Filles on stage 21.
The TT could be a tight battle between these two favourites, who both went head-to-head in the Slovenian National Time Trial Championships on a similar profile earlier this year, with Pogačar triumphing by nine seconds ahead of Roglič.
But if Pogačar does get within touching distance of Roglič for the TT, there is one moment in this Tour the latter might regret, Yates said.
“The big question for me is why didn’t Roglič chase Pogačar on the Peyresourde when he went that second time? After his team had ridden the whole day, they sacrificed everybody. He had a minute and a half on Pogačar and obviously he didn’t chase because he thought he wasn’t dangerous, but he went with him the first time I’m pretty damn sure he could have gone with him the second time. If they’d worked together, they could have put time into Bernal and he wouldn’t have lost time to Pogačar.
"Now Pogačar is back in the frame.”
Pogačar had fallen out of the top-10 at the end of the first week when he lost time in the crosswinds of stage seven, but he was able to claw his way back into contention the following day with a long-range attack over the top of the Peyresourde, setting himself up to move into second place at the end of the second week.
Yates added: "Bernal will be back. Roglič or Pogačar will win the Tour and Bernal will be there next year to try and unseat them, but he wont be winning multiple Tours in a row just yet."
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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