Sir Bradley Wiggins: Ineos Grenadiers must back ‘leader’ Geraint Thomas at Tour de France

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Sir Bradley Wiggins: Ineos Grenadiers must back ‘leader’ Geraint Thomas at Tour de France - GETTY IMAGES
Sir Bradley Wiggins: Ineos Grenadiers must back ‘leader’ Geraint Thomas at Tour de France - GETTY IMAGES

Sir Bradley Wiggins believes Ineos Grenadiers should throw their full support behind Geraint Thomas at the Tour de France, though conceded it is unlikely his former team-mate can win a second yellow jersey.

Thomas, who won the Tour in 2018, was named in the British squad's eight-man team on Tuesday, and will share leadership duties with Daniel Martínez of Colombia and Bury-born Adam Yates. Wiggins, however, insists the Welshman deserves to be the team's outright leader at the Tour, which starts in Denmark on July 1.

In the absence of an obvious challenger to defending champion Tadej Pogacar and his Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic, who will arrive in Copenhagen in fine form having won this month's Critérium du Dauphiné, Ineos Grenadiers will start the race with multiple leaders.

“In Adam, Dani and Geraint we have three fantastic GC [general classification] heavyweights who can mount a real challenge. They have proved their form across the season and are lining up in Copenhagen in great shape,” deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth said in a statement.

“It's going to be a great battle this year,” Wiggins told Telegraph Sport. “Hopefully between Roglic, Pogacar and of course Geraint Thomas who's thrown his hat into the ring with his recent Tour de Suisse success. Obviously Martínez will be a solid team-mate, but I think Geraint warrants that sole leadership role. Not only based on what he's done in the past as a former winner, but on his current physical form.”

Wiggins, who will be working on the Tour as part of Eurosport's in-race commentary team, believes you can never count Thomas out. “Barring an injury or crash, he's certainly up there and you can't discount him really. As far as everyone else – [Australian] Ben O'Connor [of the Ag2r-Citroën team] and people like that – I mean, if we're really honest, I don't think anyone's really thinking that they can win the Tour. There's always an outside chance, of course.

“Things can happen. We could lose the top two guys in a crash or something but I think barring injuries, crashes and things like that, from a physical point of view, it's going to come down to two guys with Geraint Thomas as that third one.”

Joining Thomas, Martínez and Yates will be fellow Britons Luke Rowe and Tom Pidcock, the latter of whom is making his Tour debut, along with world time trial champion Filippo Ganna, Paris-Roubaix winner Dylan van Baarle and Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo.

Wiggins, who became the first British rider to win the Tour while riding for Team Sky – now Ineos Grenadiers – however, says his former team can no longer be considered “big guns” at the race they once dominated.

He believes the race for the yellow jersey he won in 2012 will, in all likelihood, be a two-way battle between Roglic and Pogacar. Defending champion Pogacar will be the outright leader at UAE Team Emirates, but Jumbo-Visma may adopt a dual leadership strategy, though Wiggins believes the Dutch squad has the right chemistry to challenge back-to-back winner Pogacar.

“Even though it appears to be a two-pronged leadership role at Jumbo-Visma, I think the clear leader will be Roglic,” he says. “They will use those numbers when they get into the mountains where they can use Vingegaard to double up and stretch Pogacar with a view to Roglic going on to win the race.

“But you never know, if they start playing cat-and-mouse and Vingegaard goes, we could see a surprise as Roglic and Pogacar mark each other out of the race. Geraint can slip and slide around, and maybe take advantage.”

Watch the Tour de France LIVE from July 1 on discovery+, Eurosport and GCN+ 

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