Tour de France 2020

Five reasons behind the Ineos Grenadiers collapse at Tour de France

Fateful decisions and a powerful Jumbo-Visma team has seen the UK squad tumble out of contention.

CULOZ, France — British powerhouse Ineos Grenadiers suffered a generational flop in the Tour de France on Sunday after dominating the world’s greatest cycling race for a decade.

Here AFP looks at some of the factors behind the failure as their defending Tour champion Egan Bernal dropped to 13th in the overall standings after a mountain showdown went horribly wrong.

Jumbo-Visma elephant in Ineos front room

In 2019, Ineos team principal Dave Brailsford described the emerging Dutch force Jumbo-Visma as the most expansive thinkers in the peloton. In the 2020 edition they have dominated proceedings in the way Ineos previously did with an outstanding line-up. Ineos simply came up against a hugely powerful team.

COVID-19

During the confinement caused by the coronavirus pandemic three of the Ineos riders were in far-flung Latin America, and questions are now being raised about the depth of their preparation as Tour champion Bernal and co-captain Richard Carapaz, the defending Giro champion, have been run ragged.

Loss of charismatic director

Nicholas Portal was the avuncular sports director who cajoled and encouraged riders in their race earpieces. The affable Frenchman died suddenly at his home in Andorra aged 40 in March having played a key role at Ineos and Sky since 2013.

Froome and Thomas miss Tour cut

Ineos announced they would race the Tour with Bernal, four-time winner Chris Froome and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, but the latter two were judged neither fit nor motivated enough to support the Colombian and placed in the Vuelta Espana and Giro d’Italia, respectively. Their absence left the team with less clout and the 23-year-old Bernal exposed.

Pressure on Bernal

In 2019, Bernal raced under the radar with the charismatic Thomas as defending champion in the hot-seat soaking up the pressure. The man from the Andes then took the Tour by the throat when the race went to 2770m in altitude in the Alps. In the spotlight and with major opposition this time around, Bernal had been trying to cling on in 2020 until Wednesday, when the Tour goes up to 2300m on the Col de Loze climb. But his defense is in tatters and Ineos are in need of a rethink.