Bradley Wiggins believes that Ineos Grenadiers have missed the presence of both Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas at this year’s Tour de France. The 2012 race winner was speaking after Egan Bernal conceded over seven minutes on the Grand Colombier on stage 15, on a day that saw the Colombian’s title defense evaporate.
Wiggins was stinging in his criticism of Dave Brailsford’s Tour de France selection, insisting that even an off-form Thomas could have been in contention for the top-ten this year. Wiggins is not the first ex-member of Team Sky to question the team after Sean Yates raised doubts over their tactics ahead of stage 14.
Wiggins, who raced for the team between 2010 and 2015, added that even an out of form Geraint Thomas would have been able to handle the pace on a relentless stage 15 and would have put in performances comparable with both Tom Dumoulin and Richie Porte.
Thomas is currently racing in Tirreno Adriatico with Froome after both riders were left out of Ineos’ Tour team due to a lack of form. Thomas is set to target the Giro, while Froome heads to the Vuelta a España later this year.
“Definitely,” Wiggins said on Eurosport when talked about whether or not his former team have missed Froome and Thomas
“I think you take your big players to races like that. The same as last year when Dimension-Data didn’t take him [Cavendish, ed] to the Tour. Just their presence at the dinner table, their presence on the flat stages in the line-up… Particularly Geraint. I can’t see Geraint not being in the same position as Tom Dumoulin. I could see him riding in that style if he chose to. With Bernal falling away I can still see Geraint there in a similar space to where Richie Porte is. Geraint not on form will probably be where Richie Porte is at the moment, Geraint on form would be challenging to win the race.”
Porte is currently riding high in the top ten and has provided his best GC performance in years. On stage 13 he finished just a few seconds behind stage winner Tadej Pogačar and race leader Primož Roglič.
Bernal’s teammate Richard Carapaz crashed heavily on stage 15 and was off the pace, while Froome said before the Tour that he understood why he had been left out the team and that he would target the Vuelta. However, Wiggins called into question Dave Brailsford's selection for this year’s Tour even further.
“Chris Froome as a four-time winner I think has earned the right just to be there in that team, in that line-up. If anything as preparation for the Vuelta a España. I don’t see how Richard Carapaz was a direct and comparable replacement for either of those riders,” he said.
"We didn’t realise at the start how little input they had into their own selections. I ‘bigged up’ the team and Dave Brailsford saying they [Froome and Thomas] were just as big a part of that decision as Dave and they probably chose to not go to the Tour. It’s clearly the other way round and they were a bit pissed off about it!
“It’s a line-up that is so unlike the Sky and Ineos of the past. We’ve just Luke Rowe in there it’s not the team it was from a British perspective of course. It’s just lacking something, an experienced head to just call those shots. A Geraint in that team just changes the whole dynamic. It’ll transpire in the next few weeks what exactly happened.”
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