Brailsford confirms Bernal, Thomas as Tour de France leaders
“As it stands at this moment in time, we’re looking at Richard [Carapaz] racing the Giro, trying to retain his title there, and then for Geraint [Thomas] and Egan [Bernal] to focus on the tour,” said Brailsford as he spoke on a video released on the team’s Twitter account.
“You pencil in your plans at this time of year, but you always know that things can change in this sport,” he said.
Froome has long made his intentions clear that he would like to target a record-equalling fifth Tour title in 2020, a feat that would put him on par with Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, and Miguel Indurain. Brailsford neither confirmed nor denied that Froome would line up for the Grand Depart in Nice, June 27.
Froome sat out the second half of 2019 after crashing heavily at the Criterium du Dauphine and breaking his femur, ribs and elbow. Froome has returned to training and recently attended a training camp in Gran Canaria. Whether he has the form to be competitive at the Tour in six months’ time is another matter.
“Of course, Chris coming back, he’s still really craving that big fifth win, and he’s working very hard at the minute to get to the level required to be competitive,” Brailsford said. “That’s what we’re working on, that’s where we’re at now.”
Bernal and Thomas placed one-two at the Tour de France in 2019, a race dubbed one of the most exciting in 30 years. However, it was the exploits of Frenchmen Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot that really lit up the race with their aggressive, attacking style and challenge for the yellow jersey. The Sky / Ineos team has long been associated with defensive riding, strangling the competition out of the race with its strength in depth. Brailsford indicated that the team would be taking the attacking line in 2020.
“We’re going to race with flair and panache, we’re going to win and try to have courage, and opt for the courageous option and not the comfort option…. and just create excitement and make great things happen for them [the fans], for us, and the whole sport.”
However Ineos races at the grand tours in 2020, Brailsford is mindful that the competition is as fierce as ever. Jumbo-Visma was the team of the 2019 with Primoz Roglic winning the Vuelta and taking third at the Giro. Stephen Kruijswijk placed third at the Tour, behind Ineos pair Bernal and Thomas, and the Dutch team took wins through the calendar.
“The other teams have done a brilliant job, let’s face it, to really improve and challenge us,” Brailsford said. “And that’s what you need – I think it’s a really positive situation to be in.”