Giro d'Italia
Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images (FILE)

Ineos embraces new opportunities without star rider Bernal in Giro roster

Sivakov, Geoghegan Hart, Dunbar headline a promising team that averages only 25 years of age.

BOLOGNA, Italy (VN) — Egan Bernal’s fractured collarbone left Team Ineos without a star leader for the 2019 Giro d’Italia, starting Saturday, but opens up opportunities for its young roster.

Russian Pavel Sivakov, only 21 years old and Londoner Tao Geoghegan Hart, 24, are leading the team as the Giro makes its start from Bologna with a time trial.

“The road will decide who is the leader,” Team Principal David Brailsford said. “And we are here without a big leader, so we can be more flexible and try crazy things because it doesn’t really matter. That’s liberating. These guys are sensational with what they’ve done already.”

Instead of Bernal, or known grand tour winners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, Ineos is beginning the grand tour with a fresh face. This is its youngest grand tour team ever, at an average age of 25 years old.

Already, Sivakov won the Tour of the Alps overall a week ago. It was Team Sky’s last victory before changing ownership and name to Ineos. Geoghegan Hart helped Sivakov, winning two stages and placing second overall.

A week later, Chris Lawless won the Tour of Yorkshire and Eddie Dunbar placed third, earning his spot on the Giro team left open by Bernal.

“A new generation is coming,” Geoghegan Hart said.

“It was definitely strange to hear the news about Egan. Emotionally everyone was invested in supporting him and it has been that way for six to seven months.”

Bernal fell last week in training and broke his collarbone. He is expected to return and race the Tour de France.

Geoghegan Hart had been training with Bernal in Andorra just minutes before the incident happened. Now, he takes the leadership role that Bernal left open along with Sivakov.

“It has definitely been strange making the adjustment and it is not easy to say, but at the same time, sport is brutal and everyone is still going to start on Saturday without Egan here. We’re going try to make the most of these three weeks,” said Geoghegan Hart.

“Pavel and I want to try as much as we can to follow the best for a certain amount of time until we see at least where we are. If we need to adapt, we will.”

Sivakov won the amateur Giro d’Italia in 2017 in a season that also included the Ronde de l’Isard and Giro della Valle d’Aosta overall titles. Team Sky signed him for the 2018 season. Last year, it debuted him in his first grand tour, the Vuelta a España, alongside Geoghegan Hart.

“We’re planning on going to the race with Egan and we could have really fought for the win with him, so there was a sadness,” Sivakov said.

“But on the other hand, it will open up an opportunity for us and in our sport, when you have those opportunities you have to take them. It’s going to be exciting for us and it will be a different approach.”

Sivakov has cycling in his blood. He was born in Italy but has a French accent being raised in Toulouse by his Russian parents. His dad Andrei raced the Tour de France three times with Team BigMat-Auber 93 and his mom Aleksandra Kolisseva finished second twice in the Giro Rosa.

“Could I already win the Giro in 2019? I don’t know but I hope to one day,” Sivakov added.

“We don’t know but if you start races to win… I don’t know but I hope one day I’m going to win this one.”