Quartet strategy can return Tour de France to Ineos

·3-min read
Geraint Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers

Ineos Grenadiers generally establish what they call a clear "mission strategy" and on Thursday they unveiled a four-rider leadership of their eight-man team, headed by Geraint Thomas and charged with bringing the outfit their eighth Tour de France win in ten years.

Charismatic 2018 Tour winner Thomas, former Giro champions Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart as well as Australian climber Richie Porte are hoping to beat their rivals by force of numbers.

Ineos, formerly known as Team Sky, won the Tour in 2012 with Bradley Wiggins, in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 with Chris Froome, 2018 with Thomas and 2019 with Egan Bernal, who pulled out of his defence injured.

This year's race starts in Brest on Saturday and Thomas predicted an eventful first week.

"Something will happen to somebody as it always does and four could quickly become three," the Welshman said.

"It will be stressful in the wind and it could be a chaotic first week," he added.

The Tour starts with four stages in Brittany followed by an individual time trial and then the shortest and longest stages as the race crosses the Loire valley with its celebrated chateaux.

"It will take a lot of physical and mental energy, that you pay for at the end game" he said.

"And the first time trial will shake things up," he said of stage five's 26km individual effort.

"And we can't protect four leaders, it will take too much energy," the 35-year-old added.

The race then crosses the breadth of the country in a diagonal line towards the Alps and Thomas, speaking from the Ineos team bus outside his hotel in the port area of Brest, nodded seriously about champion Tadej Pogocar's chances of retaining his crown.

"He'll be up there, especially in the mountains, but there's no point being ultra aggressive and then blowing up in the last week," he said.

Porte was also concerned about the final week, but less so about both the issue of who is the real leader nor the threat from Slovenian Pogacar.

"So long as we stick together and there's a few of us in contention, then he can't beat all four of us," Porte said.

"Pogacar is the benchmark, but our trump card is strength in numbers," insisted Porte.

- 'Momentum' -

Carapaz is on his second Tour after winning the Giro in 2019 which he contested as a dark horse.

"I'm in the form of my life and have been single-mindedly preparing for this all year. The pandemic was strange, but now I'm in the best possible shape," he said.

The 2020 Giro winner Geoghegan Hart is also in the mix.

"Just to be in this squad is to be at the pinnacle of professional cycling, and I've been aiming for it all my career," he said.

"It's a fantastic team with a lot of momentum.

"The Tour is a race to which most cyclists can trace the origins of their interest in the sport," said the 26-year-old who appears to have a big future ahead of him.

"Brittany is a beautiful area, it reminds me a lot of Cornwall, and feels close to home with the Gaelic culture," said Hart, who grew up in London but considers himself Scottish.

"Its going to be a tricky first few days, but if you want to win you have to be ready on each of the 21 start lines," said the confident public speaker.

"It's going to be a nice journey and I'm looking forward to whatever comes, good or bad."

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