Tour de France 2020

Roundtable: Is Team Ineos taking the right riders to the Tour de France?

Has Ineos backed the right leaders for the Tour? Is this a fitting send-off for Chris Froome? What's next for Geraint Thomas?

Team Ineos dropped the bombshell Wednesday with its Tour de France team selection.

There’s no space for Chris Froome or Geraint Thomas at this summer’s race, and in a shock move, the British squad announced that instead, Egan Bernal and Richard Carapaz would lead their Tour de France team.

Related

Did Ineos management make the right call with its “Tour Eight?”

Does Froome being sent to race the Vuelta a España put a dampener on his time with the team given his exit in 2021? And does Thomas’ Giro d’Italia call-up change things for him in the long-term?

Let’s roundtable!

Did Team Ineos select the correct eight for the Tour de France?

Sivakov and Bernal mark the start of a youthful new chapter for Team Ineos. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Jim Cotton (@jim_c_1985): I think so. I was slightly surprised that Thomas was left out, and equally surprised about Carapaz’s inclusion. The Ecuadorian has had a roller-coaster start to the post-COVID season with good rides at Burgos and Il Lombardia, but crashes and DNSs at Tour of Poland and Giro dell’Emilia. Although Carapaz may not have the same races in his legs as Thomas and Froome, Ineos is clearly confident the numbers are there. I can see him and Pavel Sivakov making excellent wingmen to Bernal.

Andrew Hood (@eurohoody): The numbers don’t lie, and it was pretty obvious that Froome and Thomas were off their best, at least during the Dauphiné. And with Froome exiting for Israel Start-Up Nation, leaving him off the Tour squad also avoids any risk of confusion inside the team bus. Thomas’s exclusion was a bit more of a surprise, but the Ineos coaching staff would have access to everyone’s power numbers. Brailsford went with cohesion and pure numbers. All-in for Bernal!

James Startt: I think that Thomas, while not great at the Dauphiné, could have ridden into great shape in the Tour and added his experience. But really I think they are looking at this as a bit of a rebuilding year. Clearly outclassed at all levels by Jumbo-Visma at the Dauphiné, their reign as the top Tour team is uncertain. So why not give riders like Carapaz and Sivakov some room to run?

Does Froome going to the Vuelta a España put a shadow on his time with Ineos?

Chris Froome
Froome and Brailsford’s long relationship comes to a close without a fairy-tale fifth Tour title. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images. 

James: Not at all. He simply is not ready for the Tour. And considering how far off he is currently, even getting ready for the Giro – which with three time trials could favor him on paper – could be tight. Giving him the most time possible to prepare allows him to perhaps win one more grand tour title under the team colors in what would be a proper send-off. It would also set him up nicely for next year and give his new Israel Start-Up Nation team some reassurances that they didn’t waste their money.

Andrew: Not at all. Ineos are professional, and one can imagine that Brailsford tried to handle the situation as honestly and fairly as possible. The team’s future is Bernal, and everyone knows that, including Froome. What’s most important for Froome’s future is that he can get a grand tour in his legs this season. His last grand tour was the 2018 Tour. The Vuelta, however, could be in doubt with a spiking number of COVID-19 cases in Spain. Holding off for the Vuelta will give Froome even more time to recover, and a better chance to lead.

Jim: While taking a fifth yellow jersey next month would have marked a fairy-tale ending to Froome’s time with Sky/Ineos, judging on his August form, it was clearly never going to happen. Ineos is one of the most business-like teams out there, and management isn’t going to be sentimental over taking Froome to France. Giving him until October to hit grand tour form is arguably doing him a favor so he can go out with a bang rather than a fizzle.

What does Thomas’ non-selection for the Tour de France mean for his future with Ineos?

Thomas was largely anonymous through the early-August races. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images.

Andrew: The 2020 Tour selection confirms that the future is Bernal (and Sivakov and Carapaz). Thomas is still under contract for 2021 with Ineos, and he likely won’t harbor too much ill-will simply because everyone knows it’s a mercenary’s game in professional cycling. Thomas should embrace the opportunity to race the Giro, a route that on paper suits him much better than the 2020 Tour. And with Froome going to the Vuelta, there’s the outside chance Ineos could sweep all three grand tours in 2020 — what a wacky year!

Jim: I’m sure Thomas won’t argue against the fact that he clearly doesn’t have the form. However, with Ineos taking a new-look, youthful set of leaders to the Tour, it may signal that now is his time to look for teams where he doesn’t need to elbow for leadership slots. However, at 34-years-old and with another year to run on his contract, he may struggle in finding a new home.

James: Nothing. He wasn’t ready. The Giro is a tremendous opportunity, and with the time trials, it’s better suited for him anyway. And has he has often said, he has “unfinished business” in Italy. In addition, the Giro has been slighted a bit with the new calendar, so another big name will really help that race!