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Ineos Grenadiers signs bounty of talent to boost Tour de France revival

Richie Porte, Laurens De Plus, Daniel Martínez and Tom Pidcock round out 2021 squad having previously scooped Adam Yates.

Ineos Grenadiers might not have won the 2020 Tour de France, but the peloton’s richest team is showing every intention that it will be a one-off blip.

The UK-registered team announced a flurry of new signings Friday that will bolster its grand tour bench going into next season.

Tour podium-finisher Richie Porte, Dutch climber Laurens De Plus, Colombian all-rounder Daniel Martínez, and budding star Tom Pidcock all join the British super-team on multi-year deals.

Team principal Dave Brailsford said the four new arrivals — along with Adam Yates — will provide depth to a  team undergoing a major overhaul.

“This season we have seen a change in both individual performance levels and the collective strength of teams,” Brailsford said Friday. “Riders are better prepared and teams more organized. The intensity of competition is increasing and it’s getting more difficult to win. We are relishing this challenge and focused on coming back stronger.”

The new arrivals close Ineos Grenadiers’ recruitment for 2021, team officials said. So far, Chris Froome is the only confirmed departure, who moves to Israel Start-Up Nation, but there could be another name or two who will move on. The 2018 Tour champ Geraint Thomas remains with one year left on his contract.

What stays and who arrives confirms that Ineos Grenadiers will be one of the strongest and deepest teams in the peloton.

After a Tour de France drubbing that saw defending 2019 Tour champ Egan Bernal exit in the third week, Brailsford was clearly working on bolstering the team’s depth chart.

“The riders themselves are at the heart of any team,” Brailsford said. “And each one of our new signings forms a key part of the evolution of the team.”

The arrival of Porte as a climbing domestique, and the growing potential of both De Plus and Martínez, along with Yates and the budding talent of Pidcock, means Ineos Grenadiers has strength in numbers in just about every stage race on the cycling calendar. While the team still lacks a star sprinter and its Belgian classics program remains a secondary focus, the team’s central push will clearly remain on winning stage races, and most importantly the Tour de France.

Porte, who recently rode to a career-best third in the Tour, returns to Ineos Grenadiers after racing with the team under the Sky banner for four seasons. After taking leadership roles at BMC Racing and Trek-Segafredo, he happily slots into a worker role for the closing years of his career.

“I know what my role is,” Porte said. “I know I can still win races on my day, but I see myself slotting in as a climbing domestique, and it’s something I really look forward to.”

Du Plus and Martínez, both young riders with upward momentum, will continue on their development, seeing leadership opportunities in secondary races before slotting into helper roles in the major grand tours. Both will have an open runway to develop their GC potential.

“We are also particularly happy to add a rider of Laurens’ capability to our team,” Brailsford said. “We admire his breadth of ability and we want to support him to develop and reach his full potential both individually and as part of our team.”

De Plus leaves arch-rival Jumbo-Visma, while Martínez comes across from EF Pro Cycling following overall victory at this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné and a stage win at the 2020 Tour.

Pidcock, a recent winner of the Baby Giro, along with the arrival of Adam Yates, assures the UK team a strong national presence on what’s a very international lineup.

What’s clear is that Ineos Grenadiers has the pocketbook to sign top riders in what’s a very distressed rider market in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that’s left some teams on its knees.

And Brailsford won’t take the 2020 Tour sitting down. The arrival of Tadej Pogačar, and the rise of Jumbo-Visma mean that Brailsford and Co. have to up their game.

Before this year, Brailsford’s team won seven of the past eight editions of the Tour de France. This wave of new signings shows that the team has every intention of reclaiming what it views as its Tour crown.