For Brits, the period of Ineos and Team Sky dominance from 2012 to 2019 was completely unprecedented. The team won 7 of the 8 Tour de France titles in that period but are finding themselves behind their rivals in this generation of racing.
Despite showing interest in Tadej Pogacar, Ineos-Grenadiers were beaten to the punch by Team UAE Emirates who had shown interest from an earlier point. Pogacar won the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021, with Jonas Vingegaard taking Jumbo-Visma’s maiden Tour de France win in 2022. Whilst Geraint Thomas finished 3rd in this year’s Tour, he was never really in contention for the actual win and yellow jersey.
“They’re bastards! There’s always been young guys performing well but those two are even better, especially Pogacar who can do everything.”
“Tom for sure has a very bright future… but in the more short term, who do you sign? The best way is as we came in here with a good strong lineup.”Geraint Thomas
Tom Pidcock, a future GC contender?
British interest is being piqued by Tom Pidcock. The 22-year-old won the Alpe d’Huez stage in this year’s Tour de France and the MTB Olympic champion is already being hedged as potential future Tour winner. There will need to be some Bradley Wiggins/Geraint Thomas style conversion to become a general classification rider. Even then, would that be enough to take on Vingegaard and Pogacar.
Things didn’t necessarily go to plan for the Ineos-Grenadiers in the 2022 Tour. Dani Martinez was expected to be a GC contender but was clearly sick and struggled to make any impression. Adam Yates looked good for 2 weeks but ultimately would be sick too and fall back in the classification. It really felt like Geraint achieved the best possible available result for him and, miraculously, stayed out of trouble and got through a grand tour without crashing.
The return of Egan Bernal?
The injury to Egan Bernal at the start of the 2022 season also threw a spanner in the works for the season’s planning. The Colombian is back on the bike and there is talk that he will be back racing in August but who knows what level he will be able to return to. A return to peak Egan Bernal levels, he did win the 2019 Tour de France after all, and maybe Ineos has an almost ready contender. The worst-case scenario though is that Bernal’s return is like Chris Froome after his accident. Solid but never quite the same level and take years to come back to a strong result.