Geraint Thomas will lead Ineos Grenadiers in 2021 Tour de France

Geraint Thomas will lead the Ineos Grenadiers lineup at this year’s Tour de France, supported by the Giro d’Italia champion, Tao Geoghegan Hart, and the 2019 Giro champion, Richard Carapaz, according to the team principal, Dave Brailsford.

This year’s Tour route is “really suited to Geraint’s attributes,” Brailsford said, of the 2018 Tour winner, who will be 35 this year and is in discussions with the team over a new contract.

“He is very motivated for it. Given the time-trialling, the nature of the climbing, the first week and the cross winds, that element lends itself well to his skills and attributes. On paper it’s a great Tour for Geraint.”

The 2019 Tour champion, Egan Bernal, who has spent much of this winter in rehabilitation for the back injury that forced him out of his title defence, made his return to racing in the south of France on Wednesday, and Brailsford said the Giro will be the Colombian’s first target.

“He spent time in Italy as a young rider, he was in an Italian team, he has strong connections in Italy and he really wants to compete for all three Grand Tours and not just fall into the trap of doing the Tour every year. I wouldn’t rule out Egan doubling up into the Tour, that’s very possible. But we’ll assess that one as we get closer.”

Geoghegan Hart, the surprise winner in Milan last autumn, will focus on the Tour. “He could have gone back to Italy and there was a lot of chat about him going back to defend his Giro title,” Brailsford said. “On the other hand, he could step up and focus on trying to ride the Tour. In terms of his progression and development, it felt like riding the Tour was the next step.”

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“It is a great opportunity for him. He had a fantastic adventure, unbelievable experience and an inspiring experience for all of us who were in and around that. It feels like he can carry on that adventure, step up while he is in such a great place. Go and take on a new challenge, a different challenge, and see how we can get on.”

New recruit Adam Yates will concentrate on the Vuelta a España, while Brailsford said the 21-year-old Tom Pidcock will be expected to learn how to “life the life of an elite rider.”