≡ Menu

Only As Good As Your Last Race

“You’re only as good as your last race” is cycling’s version of “what have you done for me lately?” and Team Ineos’s selection for the Tour de France is a clear demonstration. Out go Thomas and Froome, in come Carapaz and Amador.

Arch rivals Jumbo-Visma announced their Tour de France team last December which looked like both a plan and also a hostage to fortune. Sure enough Laurens de Plus is off the squad but in comes George Bennett, a like-for-like replacement. Otherwise the plan has held up, assuming Steven Kruijswijk’s shoulder has popped back into place. It’s easy to ascribe this to some kind of genius and management talent but, well, they just picked their best eight riders for the Tour de France route.

Still it’s a contrast to Ineos where if you told someone their Tour de France starting eight back in January it would have sounded about as likely as… the Tour de France being moved to September. Nevermind the pandemic, plenty has changed at Ineos in recent weeks. It started with a confident interview by Egan Bernal in the Colombian press, followed by reports suggesting Ineos were unable to guarantee Froome sole leadership. Froome entered the jobs market and signed for Israel. We’ve gone from three leaders to one very quickly.

The road decided
Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas struggled in recent races. Arguably Froome has been off the pace for some time, before his horror crash in 2019 he’d had a quiet start to the season, understandable perhaps of the Giro-Tour double in 2018 but still his quietest time results-wise since 2012. Even just before the infamous crash in the Dauphiné, on the stage to Craponne his tongue was hanging out and he needed Wout Poels to close gaps to Thibaut Pinot and Jacob Fuglsang. Since then there’s been a big rehab work and the UAE Tour was just a test. As Froome put it himself in a tweet he’s come a long way in a year. But he was also tweeting about “prepping for the Tour de France” and “form incoming” last week too. There was no mention of the Vuelta, although a month ago now The Cycling Podcast’s Richard Moore and La Gazzetta’s Ciro Sconomiglio were both airing the idea that Froome could be touring Spain instead of France.

The Tour de l’Ain’s a neat little race, it’s got some tough climbs where there’s no hiding. We saw Froome working for the team but when he took his big pull on the Grand Colombier both Guillaume Martin and George Bennett used the moment to drop back to their team cars to fetch drinks when in years past they’d have braced for a lactic acid bath. Thomas was also struggling here, dropped midway on the Col des Menthières on Stage 2 and if he did some team work the following day, he was out the back before Andrey Amador who’s taken his place. It meant questions over selection for the pair of them going into the Dauphiné and the week didn’t bring any positive answers. The Col de Porte saw Froome unable to do a turn after Michał Kwiatkowski’s pull and on the final day Thomas tried to bridge to the early breakaway on the Domancy climb but while others made it across he couldn’t. L’Equipe (€) quotes him saying he had a kilo to lose. He’s struggled with winters in the past, perhaps the long lay off was as challenging but here I thought he’d actually cope better with more summer time to train for the Tour. It’s surprising when two riders with five Tour de France’s don’t start but nobody is picked for their palmarès, it’s what they will do next that counts. As we saw in the Dauphiné, particularly on the Col de Porte, Egan Bernal needs all the help he can get.

  • On a side note, one constant fascination is how Sky/Ineos have cultured an image of everything being planned, to the point of where even things going wrong can be seen as actually part of a secret scheme. To mention Froome and Thomas were in the gruppetto was to get responses in the comments, by email and on Twitter that it was probably part of a plan.

 

Ineos are by far the richest team in the sport and leaving out two Tour de France winners is made easy because of the substitutes available. In comes Giro winner Richard Carapaz, panic at Ineos is too strong a word but it plans have been hastily rewritten, all year he was going to target the Giro again. He was a surprise Giro winner in that few picked him before the race, but by the end he was convincing. He built his Giro win on an attack on Colle San Carlo before and the road Courmayeur. Earlier this year on a surprisingly mild day in February I rode these roads again and just kept thinking over and over what Carapaz did that day was underrated. It’ll be interesting to see what role he occupies in the team, whether he’s support for Bernal or an outright Plan-B because Ineos like to start a grand tour with two protected riders. The same question for Pavel Sivakov who has looked very strong, particularly last Sunday where he was up the road for much of the day and at times towing Julian Alaphilippe in their breakaway. He crashed but still caught a tiring Alaphilippe and then had the energy left to stick with the counter-move that came across and even to attack them.

What of other teams? Miguel Angel Lopez looks to be improving after being out of the picture in the Route d’Occitanie at the start of the month so team boss Alexander Vinokourov is probably more relaxed about Jacob Fuglsang and Aleksandr Vlasov riding the Giro, there’s less of a need to “do a Carapaz”. Adam Yates had a quiet Dauphiné but Simon Yates looks set on the Giro. Chez Trek-Segafredo Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema are going well and Vincenzo Nibali can plan for the Giro. For most other teams there’s no luxury of being able to sub-out superstars and bring in spare grand tour winners.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael B Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 3:23 pm

    Thomas seems pretty down about being shunted across to the Giro but it could actually be good for him if he can find the motivation. Time to prepare, shift a few kilos, and add a second GT to his palmares. There’s no chance he’d win the Tour this year on his Dauphine form so what’s the point of him doing at as their fourth strongest rider behind Bernal, Carapaz and Sivakov?

    • Gelato4bahamontes Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 4:12 pm

      Thomas to beat fugslang, vlasov, nibali, ciccone and Yates? Really?

      • Johhny Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 4:33 pm

        On current/recent form, no.
        For a Thomas somewhere near his best, there’s 65km of TTing to take some time off the pure climbers, and then defend in the mountains.
        A long shot to put it mildly.

      • Michael B Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 5:23 pm

        No, I still think it’s very much a longshot, and very unlikely, but slightly more plausible than him beating Roglic, Bernal, Carapaz, Dumoulin, or Pinot.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 6:15 pm

        not that I disagree about Thomas but it seems extremely premature to add Vlasov to that list when he’s never even ridden a GT before. he’s looked great recently, no doubt, but who knows how he’ll hold up over 3 weeks.

        • UHJ Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 10:41 pm

          Vlasov, it remains to be seen over 3 weeks, but he did manage to win the baby giro in 2018, so he is no stranger to longer stage races. And it seems to me that his development as a rider is favoured by a slow but steady rise in challenges. I would not count him out, though he is not a bookie favorite outright. He can climb and TT.

          • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 11:28 pm

            Astana will likely spare him but probably one to watch in the longer term, most Russian riders dazzle in the U23 ranks but fade once they turn pro, this one looks more complete.

        • Paul Thursday, 20 August 2020, 12:39 am

          More premature to add Ciccone — he’s a stage hunter, not a GC rider. I’ll be shocked if he finishes top 10.

          • Gelato4bahamontes Thursday, 20 August 2020, 8:42 am

            Ciccone results are getting better year by year. Kom at giro last year. Being tutored by nibali. Think he will do OK at the giro.

      • Davesta Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 7:59 pm

        I seem to recall people saying this kind of thing before July 2018…!

    • CA Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 8:35 pm

      I agree with Gelato… there is no chance that Thomas is going to win a GT this year… He was in the grupetto at the Dauphine! The GRUPPO! How is that possible for a potential GT winner. People massively underestimate the current crop of young guns coming up. If Ineos was bluffing they would have had G ride with the top riders at the Dauphine, but soft pedal over the line – not finish 16 minutes down on stage 4. To be dropped and lose 16 minutes in a key prep race mean your season as a GT winner is done.

      Thomas and Froome are in their 30’s which is old for a GT winner, and both have had big hiccups to their preparation the last two years, which harms older riders way more than young kids.

      • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 8:53 pm

        I wouldn’t say “no chance” for Thomas. Yes he was in the gruppetto on the last day but only after trying to get in the break on the hardest of stages, it didn’t work. So short of form but a couple of days before on the Col de Porte summit finish he made it almost towards the top, this was better than the Tour de l’Ain days before.

      • CA Thursday, 20 August 2020, 8:03 pm

        For Geraint to win the Giro, 0% chance… possibly to be up there and to compete, but he better build a tonne of form before the Giro. Don’t forget every other rider is also building form right now too and he’s way way behind at this point.

    • Morten Reippuert Thursday, 20 August 2020, 12:04 pm

      Rumor bulletin in the naughty catagory suspects some of the early abandonments in Dauphine is because certain riders wants/needs to loose additional weight before the TDF start.

      Weight loss means cortisone injections (only an option for non-MPCC teams)

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 3:41 pm

    “Only as good as your last race” suggests they should consider themselves fortunate to have been offered Giro+Vuelta leadership(?) Ineos won’t learn much new from those 2 races so there is some sentimentality from Ineos there I think.
    Ineos’ should be fascinating to watch against the JV powerhouse, it doesn’t feel like their super-budget is currently harming the sport to me… the times they are a changin’.

    • DJW Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 5:24 pm

      Offered the Giro and Vuelta, but surely only subject to showing much better form and potential. Ineos have too much strength in depth to give GT places based on distant past performance.

      • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 5:44 pm

        Yes, these are the next goals but if another rider looks more promising they’ll surely take Thomas and Froome’s places in a flash again although apparently there’s a documentary being made about Froome and his recovery, there’s a desire/need to see him in action for this.

        • Michael B Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 9:24 pm

          The first time the Tour of Britain might have been useful to him and it isn’t happening.

    • RQS Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 6:30 pm

      The Vuelta and Giro are almost run at the same time this year and so close to the TdF that my bet is most teams will load the tour with their A-team and that the other two will be B-team material. Unless your team decides that they have a MUCH better chance at the other GTs it’s already a bit of a diss if you end up in the teams attending those races.

      • Gelato4bahamontes Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 9:27 pm

        If you’re an Italian rider the giro is not second best.

  • Martijn Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 3:54 pm

    Carapaz looked just as mediocre as Thomas and Froome in Lombardia, although he did win a stage in the Tour of Poland shortly before that.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 3:55 pm

      He was sore after a big crash in the Tour de Pologne.

  • Andy85 Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 4:18 pm

    Given the condensed season maybe DB values current form very highly, and ultimately the likes of Amador, Carapaz etc are top riders who are there to step up when any opportunity arises. You read in other sports sometimes that personalities have more control than management, thats clearly not the case with Ineos.

    I do wonder how much they knew about the South American lads condition when they were on the otherside of the world before the ‘sports plane’ came over to europe (that would of been a great flight to be on). Maybe thats why this may be a surprise to some of the not picked riders (given their social media comments earlier).

  • Larrick Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 4:31 pm

    Thomas did say he had a kilo to lose. We had him on tv, pre-live pix, interviewed before one of the stages at the end of the week over here on SBS. Froome was always a very, very long shot and I’d be really surprised if they’d ‘planned’ to take him at all. More they didn’t write him off. Thomas obviously wasn’t hitting those numbers last week or there’s more to it.

    Your point about the perception of the ‘planned’ nature of Ineos is probably because they do plan. Doesn’t mean it always allows Brailsford to play Hannibal though. Plans don’t always come together. 🙂

    • keith warmington Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 9:16 pm

      to quote Mike Tyson “everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth”!

  • Simon Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 5:22 pm

    Are embedded tweets a new feature for the blog?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 5:42 pm

      Saved typing out Ineos’s riders and shows Jumbo’s pick dates from December. Otherwise I tend to avoid them.

  • cp Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 6:00 pm

    I wanted to see Carapaz do the Giro. I wonder how he feels about his “promotion” to the TdF.

    On another note: has a bike team ever before been named after a sponsoring company’s specific product? Could we have the Movistar Unlimited Data Plans next? It makes me hope, cynically, that Ikea will sponsor a team because the names could be priceless…

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 6:03 pm

      Plenty of product names in sponsors over the years, just as Ineos are temporarily changing their name, we’ve seen Lotto-Soudal become “Soudal Fix All” for Paris-Nice etc

      • cp Thursday, 20 August 2020, 2:06 am

        I didn’t realize. Still pretty tacky, though that lotto soudal name is kind of catchy!

        • dale nixon Thursday, 20 August 2020, 3:24 pm

          I believe it sets pretty fast actually

    • Paul Sunday, 23 August 2020, 7:46 am

      I believe Team Predictor-Lotto was named after a pregnancy test from omega pharma.

      • Maximflyer Sunday, 23 August 2020, 2:04 pm

        Silence-Lotto and Davitamon-Lotto ditto

        • plurien Wednesday, 26 August 2020, 12:30 pm

          Isnt there an anecdote where that team’s CEO and DS are in a team car with a sports writer in the back. One of them is having a go at the other for snoring and a terrible night’s sleep. It takes the journo to point out the team is sponsored by Silence, a snore-suppressant spray and they really ought to try it…

  • jc Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 6:06 pm

    Perhaps Dave Brailsford is getting sentimental!

    Inrng is right that Chris Froome has not been the force he was even before the accident. Since his ride for the ages to wrestle the Giro from Tom Dumoulin and be the first (?) to hold all three GTs concurrently he has seemed to lack something. Probably not really surprising given not just physical tiredness but all the stress of the inhaler thing (whatever your views on that). He has looked completely off the pace since his return. Letting him have a tilt in the Vuelta as his final race for the team seems fair but will he really have the form especially as the race will not be in the late summer heat but in the mists and rain of autumnal Galicia and the Basque country. Egan Bernal is already talking about being part of the team, could he be aiming for a Vuelta title this year too?

    G has not looked to be ready for the TdF, if he was I think he would have made the break on Sunday and it was clear he was expected to. In retrospect there was a passing of the batten moment in the last Tour. He fell towards the end of the stage into St Etienne, Julian Allaphilippe & Thibaut Pinot rode away but he was in no position to match them. If he had gone with them (no doubt he was capable) that would have made him clear leader on the road for Ineos, it didnt happen and the mantle passed to Egan Bernal. Perhaps not as obvious as Froome and Wiggins on the Planche des Belles Filles but the same result. The Giro seems generous to G and somewhat harsh on Richard Carapaz but given there is around 65km of TT and there must be a chance that one or both of the Stelvio or Agnello could get dropped because of early snow it should really be an ideal opportunity. Assuming he has not lost his TT ability he must be a good deal above the others being talked about as contenders.

    I do wonder if this might mark the beginning of the end for the Dave Brailsford project. Sky was always a project based around British cycling, no doubt it was seen as a British team (especially in France). Luke Rowe is a fine rider, probably the best “road captain” around, but he is hardly a big media draw. Without British prospective GT winners will Jim Radcliffe want to continue to throw money at the team? Funding a bunch of very highly paid but disparate individuals might not have the same attraction a watching a brit (however widely you define that) ride up the Champs d’Elysee in the yellow jersey.

    • Lukyluk Thursday, 20 August 2020, 8:06 am

      I’d imagine Ineos has ventures, current or planned, beyond Yorkshire. A famous team in South America could serve their purpose.

      I’m a bit let down that Carapaz won’t defend his title. He crafted himself a cunning victory last year, outplaying Nibali and Roglic who looked stronger to me – it would have been nice to see what he could do to repeat the feat, especially with, as the French say, “la pancarte” – the status of favorite, a big signpost in your back that reads “cannot let away”.

      I’m not sure how he’s going to feel about that either. I don’t think he’s got what it takes to rival Bernal’s team leadership this year, so he’s effectively riding as a domestique, and the Vuelta is a long time away. You might have an current grand tour title holder who’s doing pretty well, showing form, and has just switched teams to get more support, not having the opportunity to ride for GC this year.

      And that is so very, very Ineos.

    • daiboy Saturday, 22 August 2020, 8:15 pm

      I’m glad you mention this incident…I also feel it is overlooked with regard to the narrative of the race itself and the wider changing of guard.

      As an aside, I’d love to know the truth behind his form of the past year and a bit. There’s no doubt he suffered in 2019 off the back of lording his 2018 victory. He said as much and I think it’s a shame that commentators don’t acknowledge the human aspect – as opposed to the calculated aproach we expect of our sportspeople – of his travails. Regarding this year, I wonder if its a lack of motivation, a miscalculation, age or a lack of racing.

      And another aside…I like to think that G was dropped because he questioned the sense of promoting a rehashed Land Rover Defender and the PR f*ckup of pro-Brexit Ineos pulling out of manufacturing in the UK (more specifically in Bridgend, <20 miles from G's patch).

  • Lanterne_Verte Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 6:45 pm

    Whats up with De Plus? Did he crash? Merijn Zeeman says on CN “He hasn’t recovered yet. He still has medical problems. He’s slowly recovering but he’s absolutely not ready to participate. He would be by far the best guy to come in but unfortunately, he’s still recovering. We’re hoping for him to be at the Giro but he’s not ready to be at the Tour.”

  • Richard S Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 6:47 pm

    Thomas is a classic British sportsman, like Wiggins. We aren’t good at staying good. You could argue that at most sports we arent even good at being good. But when we do win we enjoy it too much, get complacent and let it slip. Froome being born and raised in Africa and resident in Monaco has never been mentally British. He’s just old now.
    You could argue that the Dauphine was the last race of Skyneos being a British team. They’ll still be British registered but Froomes going and Thomas, Rowe and Stannard won’t be long behind.

    • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 8:26 pm

      I think Thomas’ Ineos contract expires in 2021.
      The Grenadier moniker, and the vehicle it’s named after, certainly has a strong British heritage.
      I wonder if they’ll look to recruit more British riders – Froome / Thomas out, Yates brothers in?

      • Steve Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 9:30 pm

        The Ineos Land Rover copy is named after a pub, has an entire BMW drivetrain and is likely to be manufactured in France. Now remind me, where else have I heard of something so obviously international being passed off as British to a slavering audience of gullible patriots.

        • hoh Thursday, 20 August 2020, 2:09 am

          Yes, please do remind us.

          On the other hand, this copy cat is much more Land Rover than anything JLR had put out in a long time.

        • DJW Thursday, 20 August 2020, 8:10 am

          Named after a pub? A grenadier was originally an infantry soldier who specialised in the use of grenades. As for the supposed green ‘Ocean Rescue’ team now becoming advocates of a dinosaur 4×4. The vehicle name must be seeking military association rather than a link to a pub.

          • N Thursday, 20 August 2020, 3:41 pm

            “The Grenadier takes its name from a pub in Belgravia, London where, just three years ago, Ineos Chairman Sir Jim Radcliffe conceived the project – and from the beginning, his vision was to build a no-compromise, rugged off-roader whose form followed function.”

        • KevinR Friday, 21 August 2020, 12:59 pm

          Wiggins?

          • KevinR Friday, 21 August 2020, 1:00 pm

            In response to Steve’s gullible patriots comment!

      • Paul Thursday, 20 August 2020, 12:43 am

        Simon is staying put. Adam might be a possibility

  • RQS Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 7:10 pm

    No Wout Poels?

    I still don’t understand where Dumoulin fits in at JV. He’s one rider who could ride into form, but I can’t see him being in the position to be lead over Roglic. He was really third best at best at the Dauphine, though his GC position was better than Kuss’s. Arguably he might be on a par with Kruisjwijk.

    The other classics riders will sigh with relief that Van Aert will waste his legs at the TdF, while they can save theirs.

    • Davesta Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 7:57 pm

      Wout Poels will likely be there, for Bahrain Merida 😉

    • Digahole Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 8:32 pm

      I reckon Dumoulin‘s going to be flying week 2 and 3 of the Tour. His condition seemed to improve the most of anyone during L’Ain and Dauphine so could find himself no.1 if Roglic fades. Otherwise, not too shabby as a super domestique and TTT engine. He also seems quite content to have the pressure of sole leadership off his shoulders

  • Tommy Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 8:37 pm

    I didn’t know if there was method in the Froome Thomas Dauphine madness and now we see not. As it turns out it wasn’t even a decision: if a top rider can’t handle the Dauphine select group pace then they are unselectable for TdF. For me Kwiato is a bit lucky to be included and Hart and Sosa must be frustrated, no doubt placated by decent salary and promises of Giro Vuelta or 2021.

    We can also see why rumours of Yates or Porte to Ineos – they need 1 or 2 in the Nieve mould.

    Froome we understand. Thomas we don’t: why is he so poor? My guess is that for all the £millioms spent at Ineos they don’t understand Thomas’ form either – I dont think illness or injury. My take: he is not a reliable GT thoroughbred and low form is the stuff or mortals.

    JV won’t like this selection: stronger without off-form riders and – perhaps – less predictable.

    But – has all this changed anything?

    To my mind there is 75% chance that Roglic or Bernal win. They are streets ahead and then you have a pack hoping for misfortune: Dumoulin Carapaz Landa etc. Roglic has dominated so much nobody else has won a race this year….

    • Nick Friday, 21 August 2020, 2:48 pm

      My take on Thomas is that as a 34 year old, who’s been around since he was 20, he’s now starting to decline. No real mystery to that, aging happens.

  • Humpty Dumpty Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 8:41 pm

    “I do wonder if this might mark the beginning of the end for the Dave Brailsford project”.

    Surely very unlikely. Even when Froome, Thomas, Swift, Rowe and Stannard are gone, that still leaves other Brits, inc. the 3 young riders Hayter, Lawless and Geoghegan Hart. All promising, and the latter at 25 may yet make into an elite Grand Tour rider. G. Thomas took a fair old time to make his way into the elite ranks, after all.

    Team personnel strength is not a constant, but goes in phases, and it’s impossible to have a team stuffed with elite Brits year after year after year. Brailsford must have long known he can’t just pull British rabbits out of the hat every season, and he’ll be planning for the short-, medium- and long-term with his usual care, and I would imagine relishing the new challenge.

  • Wipperman_15 Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 9:16 pm

    Sports team leaves two of their under-performing/ not fully fit stars out of the biggest match of the season. A big call, but entirely correct – if they wish to win/challenge Jumbo-Visma, then there can be no passengers, no matter what the reputation/record of Froome & Thomas.

  • AndyW Wednesday, 19 August 2020, 11:53 pm

    I find the lack of Rohan Dennis in any conversation about the Tour curious – when he signed, I assumed he was precisely the “strong TTer who can climb” that Ineos love for the Tour. He also seemed to be on a decent level with online racing (if anything can be read into that, but he at least seemed to be training hard). Is a TT-heavy Giro his goal?

  • Othersteve Thursday, 20 August 2020, 2:41 am

    RD seems to me to always comfortable in a new kit for a a year at most. Then he seems to become dismayed with equipment, staff team mates, blah blah blah. At that point he just changes teams after a great TT event. Chasing the larger payroll check, yet never really a team player unless its a TT.

    • Digahole Thursday, 20 August 2020, 6:07 am

      Well, he was at BMC for five years before Bahrain… Only as good as your last contract eh?

      • Othersteve Thursday, 20 August 2020, 11:50 pm

        2013-2020. 4 different Pro tour teams that is 2 yrs average for 8 Yrs.
        Not an indictment CNull They are pros and they have to make hay while the sun is shining.

  • Lukyluk Thursday, 20 August 2020, 7:56 am

    I think the reason why this comes as a shock is that the PR machine told us for months that everything was fine, that they were on track, that it was part of a plan.
    The last interview I heard of Thomas was before stage 4 of the Dauphine, where everyone was talking about Bernal’s DNS – he was just calmly repeating that he just needed to shed about 1kg and that he was in good shape…

    Obviously all teams/managers have used the press, not only to tell their side of the story, but also to manage expectation burden/pressure on their riders. But with Ineos, the PR training rivals most multinational corporations. Everything is just fine, until it is conclusively proven that it’s not. Risky strategy – when something goes wrong, the shock mixed with the disappointment always prompts a questioning of management.

    • Tommy Thursday, 20 August 2020, 8:48 am

      I do not like Brailsford approach to PR.

      He dissed Froome when announcing his exit, this lacked grace and was childish.

      Yesterday he tried to spin Thomas failings as an opportunity. Pathetic and disingenuous. Don’t treat your fans like idiots. Just say that Thomas is not in sufficient form.

      • RQS Thursday, 20 August 2020, 9:40 am

        You may not like that sort of management speak, and who knows what they say behind closed doors, but it’s diplomatic and reframing a goal, and focusing on the positives is psychologically a good thing.
        Better that G focuses on ‘going to win a pink jersey’, rather than ‘your form isn’t good enough’.
        You’ll have to explain what you mean about “dissing Froome”.

  • BC Thursday, 20 August 2020, 8:19 am

    In my view DB has made the correct call. The changing of the old guard was always going to happen. Maybe a year without a TdF winner, but everything comes to him who plans and waits.

    The Grenadier factory has already been built in Wales, not France. Drive chains on many vehicles are supplied by specialist manufactures. INEOS is as British as Yorkshire Pudding, but also by its very nature international in outlook.

    • John Thursday, 20 August 2020, 9:41 am

      The factory has certainly not “already been built in Wales”:
      https://www.business-live.co.uk/manufacturing/end-road-ineos-500-job-18749024
      Ratcliffe is yet another Brexiter full of hot air.

      • Morten Reippuert Thursday, 20 August 2020, 12:20 pm

        🙂

        • Ecky Thump Thursday, 20 August 2020, 6:46 pm

          And the pub, which was a former officers mess of a British Army infantry regiment, was named after the soldier for goodness sake.

      • BC Thursday, 20 August 2020, 5:27 pm

        Thanks. Things move on. Maybe more than one factory, I notice Portugal is also in the frame – no decision as yet but this is probably a bit of gamesmanship to see which country offers the best deal.

        Not so sure what this has to do with leaving the EU. I thought the people had decided to leave, not Jim Ratcliffe.

        • Steve Thursday, 20 August 2020, 10:33 pm

          Ratcliffe made a big noise about Brexit then ran off to Monaco to show his patriotism.

          There’s a very interesting column in the current issue of Top Gear explaining why Ineos are extremely unlikely to succeed in doing anything but losing a few hundred millions of those untaxed pounds and maybe making an automotive collectors item for future generations to gawp at. It’s well worth a read.

  • Wayne Thursday, 20 August 2020, 9:36 am

    Am I right in thinking that Ineos have a lot of business interests in South America? Maybe this is a look to the future where the team has a more Latin flavour and less British. That and we certainly seem to have seen the high water mark in British cycling. It’s sad to see 2 former champs not up to it but that’s sport.

    • RQS Thursday, 20 August 2020, 9:55 am

      I’ve been struck by how South American the team is. The remit of a British squad has steadily been pushed towards the exit. Without Luke Rowe there is no British contingent.
      My own thoughts on the exclusion of Froome and G is that at least Froome’s form was always contingent to his TdF presence. Unless he was putting up numbers in training then his seat was far from secure with both Bernal and G available.
      G’s omission is more puzzling because he didn’t have the injury excuse. This is a man who won and finished second in the last two TdFs. He knows what it takes and has had the time to prepare. Perhaps his age is on the wrong side of 30, and so he’s found regaining his numbers harder, but maybe that he has found it harder now that he is a father. I can imagine that in a lockdown environment, especially in the tricky 6-9 month period of infancy where a child’s sleeping pattern can be disrupted because of developmental changes. The lack of sleep, and disrupted sleep would be testing.
      I know other riders have ‘dealt’ with fatherhood better if that is the case, but that doesn’t take into account COVID-19 conditions and that usually a rider would be on the road so much and/or be able to escape domestic life to focus on their cycling.

      • Lukyluk Thursday, 20 August 2020, 10:03 am

        It’s hard to know what causes sub-par form, and I’d refrain from making too many conclusions without knowing more. No doubt that rider training plans would have been modified several times this season, and even if you’re privy to the figures, it could be difficult to interpret. When you’re locked inside with a turbo trainer and a distant objective, with no point of comparison to other riders, I’d say over-training is just as likely as under-training, maybe more so.

        Ultimately, we’re being rough on those guys. You don’t need an “excuse” to not be in top shape, nobody owes their team (even less the public) a performance.

        • Gelato4bahamontes Thursday, 20 August 2020, 1:00 pm

          At 3.5 million quid a year I think the team is owed a performance.

          • Lukyluk Thursday, 20 August 2020, 1:36 pm

            This is sport, you don’t get a guarantee of a return on investment.

            Look, I’m not exactly Froome or Thomas’ #1 fan, but I can’t help but feel for them right now, they’ll have had better hopes for himself, and being shafted like might be fair but it’s undeniably harsh. And the line of focusing on the Giro/Vuelta seems more like another PR stunt – I don’t see how either of them can go from not-good-enough-as-a-domestique to potential GT winner in 4 weeks, and I don’t believe Brailsford/Rasch have hopes for it to happen.

            It’s very possible that they had their “memento mori” shown to them, and I wouldn’t bet on any more GT victories for either of them, but I don’t believe it’s due to laziness or complacency, as several people have mentioned above.

      • Wayne Thursday, 20 August 2020, 10:16 am

        RQS I can certainly attest to a newborn making training difficult. Got a 5 month old and have often wondered how do pro athletes manage parenthood!!

        • Richard S Thursday, 20 August 2020, 10:29 am

          I’ve often wondered why pro athletes manage parenthood. Being a professional sportsman requires extreme levels of selfishness that a normal person could never get away with. Its not really compatible with being a parent, where you have to be selfless. They get paid enough so that their other half doesn’t have to work of course but their careers are so short I don’t know why they don’t just wait until they’ve retired. Obviously that wouldn’t work for Valverde or Davide Rebellin though..

          • Md3 Thursday, 20 August 2020, 5:03 pm

            Geraint Thomas was in lockdown in Wales through April, where he did a few 12hr Zwift Shifts on his Turbo Trainer to fundraise for health workers.

            Then on May 11th – when UK/France restrictions lifted – he flew to Monaco to get out training on the roads. I’m assuming his Wife and Child didn’t go with him.

            (I don’t stalk him – I just googled the article I read back then).

            Personally, I d always thought of G Thomas as a good trainer. Last year he was under cooked in Tour de Romandie (I think), went away and came back strong in Le Tour. And I remember Peter Kennaugh saying that he, himself, used to turn up to pre-season training unfit and that Thomas and Froome turned up sharp already.

            So I’m still hanging in there for Geraint to make a big mark in Giro 2020. Personally, as a fan of his, I’d rather see him go for the Giro anyway and put it on his Palmares. They say hope dies last.

          • Rodrigo Diaz Friday, 21 August 2020, 10:12 am

            There’s an emotional/personal component to this. This is, after all, not a one-person decision (especially for male athletes that can’t get pregnant).

            Maybe the decision to “wait for kids” creates conflict with the partner. Which in then turns into no partner. And an unhappy, unstable-at-home rider rarely is a well-performing rider. Cycling is a demanding enough sport that you probably don’t want to get into this.

            You have Jens Voigt, you have Pantani. It’s not easy to generalize what’s the best way, even if logistically it’s simpler to not have kids while being an elite athlete.

    • Richard S Thursday, 20 August 2020, 10:35 am

      Do Ineos have business interests in South America, more so than in other places? I put the presence of all the South American’s down to the fact that they (Bernal, Sosa, Carapaz + entourages) happen to be the best at the moment and the best is all David Brailsford is interested in. They could come from the moon for all he cares.
      Obviously all these Andean South Americans are so good because they rode to school at 5000m on a rusty unicycle with no tyres. Did they have a similar system of school transport in the Alpine foothills in Slovenia as well?

      • The Inner Ring Thursday, 20 August 2020, 11:51 am

        It’s different to Sky which needed a core of British riders, plus one or two Americans for the 21st Century Fox market. Ineos/Ratcliffe just want to win the Tour de France, the passport/flag of the winner is secondary, even a tertiary concern. But Sky’s rise attracted a lot of British fans, audiences could drop now without Froome/Thomas etc. Similar for Mitchelton-Scott who’ll start the Tour without an Australian but they’re shopping for an international sponsor, not necessarily a home one.

        • Richard S Thursday, 20 August 2020, 1:26 pm

          That’s what I thought. They don’t care where they are from, high altitude dwelling Latin American’s just happen to be the thing to have now.
          As you say Sky’s success with British riders attracted a lot of fans to the sport in Britain, a lot of whom view the sport through an entirely Team Sky/Tour de France lens. Its still pretty common to see people out riding in full Sky kit with matching black and blue helmet and bike. Not necessarily a Pinarello of course but Cube seem to have done well selling bikes in that colour scheme to Sky fans. There’s obviously a market there for a British sponsored team with a largely British line up. Who that could be in a post Covid-19 world and whether they’d be anywhere near as successful as Sky is obviously not clear. That golden generation of Wiggins/Hoy/Pendleton/Cavendish/Kenny/Froome et al is gone now, it’ll be interesting to see if most of the interest goes with them.

          • RQS Thursday, 20 August 2020, 3:04 pm

            It’d be fun to come up with some interesting and inappropriate sponsors to fit the bill e.g Ventalin
            BP, Land Rover, Anusol, Ginsters, Scotland…

    • BC Thursday, 20 August 2020, 5:37 pm

      British Cycling is now run by people who in the main have never been ‘real’ cyclists but have migrated to the organisation from outside areas. I think the confused direction and results of late make the point far better than I possibly could. There is certainly not the conveyor belt of talent being produced ten years ago.

      If you have ever had the misfortune to have to deal with BC, you would understand how far from the heady days they have fallen.

  • noel Thursday, 20 August 2020, 11:57 am

    I think the Cruiseship news is quite significant, and tilts the balance against Roglic a little more than at first glance. Unless Dumoulin can make up that difference perhaps, but SK would have been key in week 3.

    Teo G-H? seems to me to be a decent but slightly accident prone domestique, rather than a GT winner of the future. He needs to really produce if he gets another Giro/Vuelta shot in Brailsford’s cold hearted world, otherwise it’s a mountain train future (not necessarily a bad thing for him).

    and..This might just ignite the fire in Thomas’s belly to knuckle down and really produce a decent run at the Giro as a two fingers to the doubters. I hope so for the race’s benefit…

    • RQS Thursday, 20 August 2020, 3:12 pm

      Cruise ship 😄

    • MRJ Thursday, 20 August 2020, 3:53 pm

      As disappointing as it is to see SK have to miss Le Tour, I look forward to seeing him “make lemonade” by avenging his non-win of the 2016 Giro. I don’t know whom he’ll have for support – he may well be largely on his own – but that was also the case in 2016, and he almost did it; the field may be weaker this year than 2016, and he may well be a stronger rider today, so…

  • Ride4fun Thursday, 20 August 2020, 12:05 pm

    Both Froome and Thomas are riding like riders who stopped doping. If they make into the top 3 of the Giro or Vuelta then I’ll think they are hitting the pipe again.
    I never believed the mid career change of either one turning into tdf winners to be clean. Or Indurain, Pantani, Armstrong, Riis, Wiggins (although he legally doped with steroids) or Contador.
    But yet I love the race.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 20 August 2020, 1:08 pm

      *Yawn*

    • Digahole Thursday, 20 August 2020, 2:35 pm

      Might be that Froome stopped doping 12 months ago… OR he might have had some kind of horrific crash that required months of rehab and would probably have ended the careers of most. That could also explain it 🙂

    • RQS Thursday, 20 August 2020, 3:09 pm

      One wonders if the ADAs did any testing during COVID lockdown. But it would also be easier to track athletes if they did. You wonder if there were any missed out of competition tests if there were. That’d be very suspicious.

      • Lukyluk Thursday, 20 August 2020, 3:15 pm

        CADF has reported 90% less testing during lockdown. Not sure how you can get away with the old “I was on holidays in the Maldives” excuse, though…

        • hoh Thursday, 20 August 2020, 10:08 pm

          It’s simply a case of they can’t get testers out there/cross boarder thing(which federation tests Froome? British cycling? French/Monaco equivalents)?

  • CNull Thursday, 20 August 2020, 3:19 pm

    The bazaar racing calendar doesn’t feel it gets enough weight. Especially with older riders. These guys have been on almost the exact same program mentally and physically for 10-15 years. The TdF in Sept has to be a huge change to them. Not just when your body is used to peaking but the emotional and mental build up incurred from fans and press all along the way. There’s a lot to that.
    Not surprising to see some riders flat. Again, especially older ones. Younger guys can be more plug and play. It’s been interested how much cramping we’ve seen over the last few weeks. The heat of course. Barely any real racing days. These guy’s bodies and minds just can’t be expected to perform as usual. They’re probably having a hard time wrapping their own heads around it.