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Wiggins questions how his former boss has ended up without a rider in the top 10 at the Tour

Joseph Delves
14 Sep 2020

‘I think you take your big players to races like that,’ says 2012 Tour de France winner

Former Team Sky rider and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins has questioned how the team, now known as Ineos Grenadiers, have ended up without a rider in the top 10 at this year's Tour.

Speaking on Eurosport’s ‘The Breakaway’, the man who won the team’s first Tour de France said it was a strange situation for an outfit so used to getting things right.

'I don’t know what’s gone wrong to be honest,' Wiggins said. 'It’s been a very strange year for everyone and for a team that is so good at getting performance right, they nail it every year, it just hasn’t happened for them this Tour de France.'

With both team leader Egan Bernal and Giro d'Italia winner Richard Carapaz having dropped out of the top 10, Wiggins queried Team Ineos’s decision to build a team solely around the young rider. Controversially, team principal Sir David Brailsford had sent his other former Tour winners Geraint Thomas and the recovering Chris Froome to race elsewhere.

So far Team Ineos have had a torrid race. Key domestique Pavel Sivakov crashed heavily on Stage 1, while Carapaz has also fallen several times, although he seemed to sustain less serious injuries.

Having pulled out of the Dauphine early citing back problems, Bernal had looked laboured before he cracked on Stage 15’s summit finish, while Wiggins described Carapaz as a ‘shadow of the rider’ he appeared last year.

With Thomas now in third after seven stages of the concurrent Tirreno-Adriatico race, Wiggins believed the decision to leave the 2018 Tour champion out of the line-up was a mistake.

'I think you take your big players to races like that. Just their presence at the dinner table, their presence on the flat stages in the line-up…

'Particularly Geraint, I can’t see him 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 see Geraint there in a similar space to where Richie Porte is.

'Geraint not on-form would probably be where Porte is at the moment – Geraint on-form would be challenging to win the race.'

Despite a sometimes fractious relationship with his ex-teammate, Wiggins also expressed his belief Froome’s presence would have been helpful to the squad.

'Chris Froome, as 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 Espana. I don’t see how Carapaz was a direct and comparable replacement for either of those riders.

'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 Froome and Thomas were just as big a part of that decision as Dave and they probably chose not to go to the Tour.

'It’s clearly the other way round and they were a bit p*ssed off about it. It’s a line-up that is so unlike the Sky and Ineos of the past. It’s just lacking something, an experienced head to just call those shots. It’ll transpire in the next few weeks what exactly happened.'

Three Tour winners to choose from

Still recovering from a serious injury, and signed for the coming season with a rival team, Froome’s omission from the Tour wasn’t a huge surprise.

Thomas had also looked a little less than his best at the Dauphine. While not saying he wouldn't work for Bernal, the Welsh rider also expressed his belief he should be allowed to ride in pursuit of a second win at the Tour.

In building a team focused on Bernal, Brailsford seemed determined to avoid any internal conflicts. On paper, his Tour squad consisting of Egan Bernal, Richard Carapaz, Andrey Amador, Jonathan Castroviejo, Michał Kwiatkowski, Luke Rowe, Pavel Sivakov and Dylan van Baarle looked strong.

However, hindsight now makes the omission of consistent and experienced Grand Tour winners like Froome and Thomas seem less calculating.

Froome focused on next year

Still yet to get back the form of previous years, Froome says he misses being at the Tour but is confident of his chances next season.

'I do miss being there but I think the most important thing for me right now is that when I do go back I’m going to be 100% again and ready to fight for another title,' Froome told Eurosport’s Orla Chennaoui from Tirreno-Adriatico.

'I don’t just want to be going here and suffering to finish stages, that’s not going to be doing me much good at the moment. It’ll be fantastic just to get a Grand Tour in the legs this year and take me through to next season.'

With Monday’s rest day at the Tour de France providing an opportunity to reformulate its plans, Team Ineos will need to win a stage in the final week’s racing or else risk leaving the race it's won seven times in the last eight years with nothing to show for its participation.

You can watch the Tour de France live on, the Eurosport app or the GCN app.