Belfast Telegraph

Thomas and Bernal to head Ineos Tour tilt

 

Defending champion Geraint Thomas and rising star Egan Bernal have been named as joint leaders of Team Ineos as the British-based outfit chases its seventh Tour de France win in eight years. (Fiona Hanson/PA)
Defending champion Geraint Thomas and rising star Egan Bernal have been named as joint leaders of Team Ineos as the British-based outfit chases its seventh Tour de France win in eight years. (Fiona Hanson/PA)

By Matt Slater

Defending champion Geraint Thomas and rising star Egan Bernal have been named as joint leaders of Team Ineos as the British-based outfit chases its seventh Tour de France win in eight years.

Bernal was one of Thomas' support riders last year but he comes into this edition as many people's favourite to become the team's fourth different Tour champion since their launch in 2010.

But the 22-year-old would not be in this position if it were not for two accidents: the first being his own in May, which ruled him out of a tilt at the Giro d'Italia, and the second being four-time Tour champion Chris Froome's season-ending crash at the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month.

The latter robbed Froome of a chance to win a record-equalling fifth Tour title this year but the former kept Bernal fresh and enabled Team Ineos boss Sir Dave Brailsford to go into the season's biggest race still with two big cards to play.

The 33-year-old Thomas has also been in the wars himself, crashing out of this month's Tour of Switzerland.

The Welshman said: "It's no secret my build-up has been affected by the crash at the Tour de Suisse but I've had a good block of training since and I feel ready.

"Discussing it with the team, we believe it makes sense to go into the race with joint leaders as it gives us more options. Egan and I will work hard for each other and the team over the three weeks of the race.

"We've got a really exciting blend of youth and experience in the team and it's a group of riders who I know will be with me every step of the way and know what it takes to win grand tours."

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