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With Geraint Thomas leading a team leaning toward experience rather than exuberance in Italy, team boss Dave Brailsford is ready to move on from a Tour that saw the squad hit a divet after its long years of dominance in the fight for the yellow jersey.
“The Tour’s done,” Brailsford said on the eve of the Giro start, on Friday. “You can’t dwell, you don’t take one race into the next one. This is a new race, a fresh start, and it doesn’t have any bearing on what happened before it. There’s nothing in the past that’s impacting the start of this race. ”
After Egan Bernal flamed-out in the final week in France, the grand tour superpower mustered a consolation stage win from longtime worker Michal Kwiatkowski. Brailsford’s youthful team looked off the pace and lacking the heft of a wisened head throughout the Tour, with many pointing fingers at the decision to bench established grand tour champions Thomas and Chris Froome for the team’s floundering performance against the emerging might of Jumbo-Visma.
Brailsford tacitly admitted when speaking to reporters in Sicily on Friday that while the Tour team lacked experience, the same mistake won’t be made in Italy this month.
“You can understand that if you lean more toward the inexperienced in some races you can expect them to be inexperienced on the race,” he acknowledged, perhaps with a hint of hindsight.
The Sky/Ineos franchise has faced a number of misfortunes at the Giro through the years, including the early shuttering of both Thomas and Bradley Wiggins’ GC campaigns due to crashes, with Froome’s overall victory in 2018 the only bona fide high point of the team’s up-and-down relationship with the race.
Ineos Grenadiers won’t be leaving anything to chance at this year’s old school Giro that some believe packs the “toughest last week” they’ve ever seen. Brailsford has sent a strong and steely team to Italy that should have the wherewithal to last the duration of an attritional parcours and fend off challenges from similarly veteran rivals Vincenzo Nibali and Jakob Fuglsang.
“Geraint’s one of the most experienced riders on our team, and has been very successful. He’s come a long way since the start of his career with us,” Brailsford said.”It’s a high-level group with a high level of experience, and I feel like this group is in a different place than the Tour group was.”
Thomas will be backed by a septet leaning toward accumulated experience with references back to the early days of Team Sky, as opposed to the overwhelmingly fresh face of its Tour squad, which was led by 26-year-old Richard Carapaz and 23-year-old Bernal.
Ineos Grenadiers goes to Italy with the experienced legs of Ben Swift, Jonathan Castroviejo, Rohan Dennis, and Salvatore Puccio, all 30 or older. Thomas has been at Team Sky since its inception in 2010, and Swift – albeit with a two-year spell at UAE Team Emirates – has similarly been at the team since its earliest days. Likewise, Puccio has been riding in team colors since 2011.
Alongside the veterans are three youthful talents – world time trial champion Filippo Ganna, British climber Tao Geoghegan Hart, and 23-year-old Ecuadorian Jhonatan Narváez.
“Geraint epitomizes the experience we have here on the team, and we have some that are less experienced but epitomize the young talent,” Brailsford said. “We’ve got very experienced older riders and some inexperienced but highly-talented younger riders – we’re blending the both together.”
With the Tour slump now supposedly resigned to a distant memory, Brailsford will be hoping his old-school Ineos eight will return the team to winning ways at this year’s equally traditional and gnarled Giro.