Featured image courtesy of Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
As the winners of seven of the last eight editions of the Tour de France, the British outfit will send one of the strongest teams in the race, with three former winners expected to ride.
This year’s Grand Boucle will arguably prove their toughest yet, with Team Jumbo-Visma outclassing Ineos at both the Tour de l’Ain and the Criterium du Dauphiné.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the riders tipped to be heading to Nice in just over two weeks time.
Supposedly, seven of the eight riders have already been selected, with another three competing for the final place.
First and least surprising is Egan Bernal. The defending champion returns off the back of winning the Route d’Occitanie and finishing second in the Tour de l’Ain, having clearly proved he is Ineos’s strongest rider.Embed from Getty Images
He maintained strong form until a back injury forced him to abandon the Dauphiné before stage 4 on Saturday.
That said, L’Equipe reported having seen Bernal on a ride the same day, and Ineos have insisted that the injury is minor and his withdrawal precautionary.
If he recovers in time, he’ll be in a perfect place to defend his title.
2018 champion Geraint Thomas will return, although his role in the team is unclear. He has been without a win since the 2018 Tour and has failed to show the same form since, despite finishing second last year.Embed from Getty Images
Little has changed since racing has resumed, with the Welshman failing to make any impression on the Tour de l’Ain, and was near-invisible at the Dauphiné, with DS Gabriel Rasch even acknowledging his disappointing performance.
He does usually time his peaks well however, but will it be enough to justify joint leadership with Bernal?
Dutchman Dylan Van Baarle proved an excellent all-around domestique for Ineos at last year’s edition; frequently lasting far into the toughest mountain stages.
His stage win at last year’s Dauphiné proved his credentials, and he will likely join Luke Rowe in providing assistance on the flatter and medium-mountain stages.Embed from Getty Images
Luke Rowe is arguably one of, if not the most reliable domestique in the professional peloton.
He has been present on each of Team Sky’s and Ineos’ Tour-winning squads since 2015, frequently spotted leading the peloton through large portions of both flat and lumpier stages.Embed from Getty Images
He will return as one of Ineos’ most valuable riders and will return to his role of road captain.
Michal Kwiatkowski is another extremely versatile all-rounder; in any other team he would make a strong case for Grand Tour leadership.
Whilst he underperformed somewhat last year, this year he has already impressed in the Dauphiné so far and was active at Milan-Sanremo. Expect the Pole to be a key domestique in the high mountains.Embed from Getty Images
Of the Ineos riders to be shortlisted for the Tour, arguably Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo has looked the most impressive this season besides Bernal.
Since moving to Sky/Ineos in 2018 his climbing has improved drastically; such was his strength in the mountains in the Tour de l’Ain last weekend he began to drop his own leader: indeed he is making a stronger case for leadership than even Thomas or Chris Froome!
The five-time national time trial champion will also be key on flat stages, and will be an outsider for stage 20’s test against the clock.Embed from Getty Images
The final rider supposedly guaranteed a spot is four-time winner Chris Froome.
Having made a return to professional racing this year following his horrific crash at last year’s Dauphiné, the Brit has made it no secret that he fully intends to be on the start line in Nice.Embed from Getty Images
Does he deserve a place though? Based on performances this year he certainly doesn’t.
He was nowhere to be seen in the Tour de l’Ain barring one brief turn on the front on the Grand Colombier, and finished well down in each stage of the Dauphiné, having done little work for teammates.
That said, his experience will be invaluable and Bernal himself has stated his desire for Froome to be selected.
Three riders are left to compete for the final spot, the first being Russian Pavel Sivakov.Embed from Getty Images
The young climber is the least experienced of the line-up, however has proved his consistency in Grand Tours by finishing 9th at last year’s Giro.
He also won the Tours of the Alps and of Poland that year.
With the loss of Wout Poels to Bahrain-McLaren, Sivakov is a good candidate for a new Tour super-domestique, and his strong performances at the Dauphiné are surely enough to earn a place.
New signing Andrey Amador and British climber Tao Geoghegan Hart are the remaining riders to be considered.
Costa Rican Amador is one of the most experienced Grand Tour riders in the peloton, having finished 15 without abandoning, including two top-ten finishes in the Giro.Embed from Getty Images
Thus, he may be better suited in the Giro squad in support of Richard Carapaz. However, if it is further experience that is wanted in the Tour team, Amador would be ideal.
Geoghegan Hart has the least-proven track record in Grand Tours, however he did perform well in the breakaway on some high-mountain stages at the Vuelta a Espana last year.Embed from Getty Images
His performances in the Route d’Occitanie and Tour de l’Ain were solid, as opposed to spectacular, although he has not received any leadership opportunities to showcase his form. A return to the Giro may be more likely, after he crashed out last year.