Despite Richard Carapaz sitting fifth overall and with hopes of a podium place in Paris, former winner Bradley Wiggins doesn’t believe that Ineos Grenadiers have the strength and power they used to in the Tour de France.
The British team came into the Tour de France with four potential leaders. 2018 winner Geraint Thomas and 2019 Giro d’Italia champion Carapaz were given top billing, while Richie Porte and Tao Geoghegan Hart were also considered for protected roles.
However, the team have never really found their footing when it comes to the overall battle for the yellow jersey. Geoghegan Hart and Porte were out of contention after the first two days due to time losses and crashes, while Thomas dislocated his shoulder in a stage 3 crash and has never looked comfortable since.
Even Carapaz, who has at least flown the flag for the team in the mountains, was brutally exposed when Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) dropped him on the road to Le Grand Bornand on stage 8, then again at Tignes the next day.
Ineos Grenadiers, formerly known as Team Sky, won the Tour de France every year bar one between 2012 and 2019. Wiggins started the ball rolling in 2012 to become the first British Tour de France winner before Chris Froome won four titles in five years.
Thomas claimed the title in 2018 before finishing second to his teammate Egan Bernal a year later. In 2020, the team were forced to fight for stages after Bernal cracked in the mountains and later abandoned before Pogačar stormed to the win in the final time trial on the penultimate day of racing
"It’s been such a unique Tour up to this point, I can’t remember a Tour like it. It’s like a junior race," Wiggins told Eurosport ahead of stage 11.
Wiggins believes that this year’s Tour has been hard to control for a number of reasons, but he added that Ineos simply lack the power they once displayed, both in the mountains and on the flat.
"I don’t see one team that is strong enough to control it. The days of Team Sky and Ineos – they don’t have the firepower they used to have. UAE have done a great job until this point but Pogačar as a solo rider seems to be head and shoulders above everyone."
Stage 11of the 2021 Tour de France sees the peloton climb Mont Ventoux twice, with Pogačar looking to defend the yellow jersey, and possibly even extend his lead in the overall standings. Wiggins tipped Nairo Quintana, the current leader of the king of the mountains as a rider to watch for the stage win.
"There are some old names to look out for – Nairo Quintana could really surprise today, he could do something. It’s a summit around 2,000 metres which could suit the Colombians and we could expect fireworks today."
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