By Ryan McDonald
Watching the Tour de France without Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome in the peloton almost seems strange, and with neither being selected to form part of the Ineos Grenadiers team for La Grande Boucle, they are now looking ahead to the remaining Grand Tour events of 2020.
Both riders looked out of sorts during their early participation at the Critérium du Dauphiné, which ultimately led Ineos towards making their difficult decision, withdrawing the British duo. According to comments published by BBC Sport, 34-year-old Thomas explained that for his part, it was a “two-way decision” not to ride at the Tour de France.
Although he could have still participated in a team role at the Tour, that wasn’t enough for Thomas. “I don’t want to go – without sounding bad – to go and just ride for the team. I want to be fighting for the win myself,” he explained, albeit admitting that he was “disappointed” not to be competing in France.
The focus of attention for Thomas right now is the Tirreno-Adriatico and he could feature at the Worlds TT, ahead of competing at the Giro d’Italia in October. Confident that he’ll be “100% ready to go” when that event begins, Thomas is also the 5/2 cycling betting favourite to win the Giro, while Italian rider and 2016 winner Vincenzo Nabili is tipped at 5/1 odds. It is quite clear that, as well as Thomas having the odds in his favour, he has the determination to succeed as well.
After his horror accident at the 2019 Critérium, the fact that Froome has managed to recover completely is miraculous enough. That inevitably led to him watching the 2019 Tour de France from a hospital bed, therefore missing out on the 2020 Tour was inevitably frustrating, even if he’s the first to admit that it wasn’t all that surprising, not to have been selected by Ineos.
“I understand 100%. I could feel myself that I wasn’t where I needed to be.” Froome admitted in an interview with Cycling News. Just like Thomas he has been competing at the Tirreno-Adriatico, helping his teammate prepare for the Giro d’Italia. However, next on the agenda for the 35-year-old is the Vuelta a España, which has been reduced from 21 to 18 stages this year.
“I’m just going to continue focusing on being ready for the Vuelta,” explained Froome, who will skip the World Championships in Imola at the end of September. However, he hasn’t ruled out participating in a couple of one-day races, if that will help his preparations for the key Spanish event, due to be held between October 20th and November 8th.
Interestingly, the Vuelta will also be the last time we see Froom riding in the colours of Ineos, who opted not to extend his contract with the team earlier this year. Instead, the most successful rider in British road cycling history will join the Israel Start-Up Nation team at the beginning of 2021, after agreeing to a lengthy contract.
Despite his advancing age, Froome appears to remain highly motivated and confident that this move will match his ambitions, right up until the end of his illustrious career. Likewise, he’s also confident of being a genuine challenger again at the 2021 Tour de France. After two years out of the most famous road race in cycling, it will certainly be great to have him back.