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Tour de France

No old-school Team Sky tactics at the Tour de France as Geraint Thomas aims at early aggression

'The first week suits me more than some other GC riders but so much can go wrong in the first week of the Tour,' says 2018 winner.

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The notion that Ineos Grenadiers will simply employ their old Team Sky tactic of drilling it on the front of the peloton until their rivals cracked in the mountains is unlikely to feature at this year’s Tour de France as the team looks to more creative solutions when it comes to taking on top favorites Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar.

The British team heads into the Tour de France with an incredibly deep squad that includes 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates and Dani Martinez.

However, Thomas acknowledged that Ineos lack a top favorite for the yellow jersey and that in a straight up fight the team that dominated the Tour for most of the last decade would likely come up short against the two Slovenians and last year’s runner-up Jonas Vingegaard.

“We don’t have the main favorite for the race,” Thomas said during Ineos Grenadier’s pre-race press conference on Wednesday.

“In the past we’ve had Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, myself or Egan Bernal as one of the big favorites going into the start. Now as we all know Roglič and Pogačar have been the MVPs of the last few years and if we just pull all day, set a tempo and go man vs. man it’s going to be hard to beat them.

“We’ve got a strong team here and numbers and hopefully we can use that in the right moments to our advantage. That’s a big change.”

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The opening first week of this year’s Tour de France route looks like the ideal terrain on which to put teams under pressure with cross-winds, crashes, cobbles and splits all set to feature in the mayhem.

Roglič’s team looked ready for that challenge given its roster choices but Pogačar will have to fend without the trusted work of Matteo Trentin, who was ruled out of the team due to COVID.

Thomas will be looking towards Dylan van Baale, Tom Pidcock and Luke Rowe to help put Ineos’ key rivals on the back foot, or at the very least keep the Welshman out of harm’s way.

“The first week, we have the rider to ride well and hopefully that puts us in the right place and limits the risk of things happening,” Thomas said.

“As we all know with the cobbles so much can go wrong. It’s pure luck and hopefully we can avoid the bad luck. Hopefully we can be aggressive but a lot depends on the weather too. The first week suits me more than some other GC riders but so much can go wrong in the first week of the Tour.”