London - Defending
Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas and in-form Egon Bernal will be
the joint leaders for this year's renewal of the race their
team Ineos announced on Friday.
Shorn of four-time winner Chris Froome following his horrific crash
earlier this month Ineos have opted -for their debut in cycling's most
famous race to share the race leadership duties.
Thomas goes into the race on the back of also having had a crash in
June in the Tour de Suisse - though the repercussions were not as
serious as in Froome's case - a race that Colombian rider Bernal
confirmed his burgeoning talent by winning.
"It’s no secret my build-up has been affected by the crash at Tour de
Suisse but I've had a good block of training since and I feel ready,"
"Discussing with the team, we believe it makes sense to go into the race with joint leaders as it gives us more options.
"Egan and I will work hard for each other and the team over the three weeks of the race," added the 33-year-old Welshman.
Bernal, one of five riders in this year's team who helped Thomas to a
surprise win last time, said approaching his second Tour de France he
knew what to expect.
"As a bike rider, whatever you might think about the Tour from the
outside you don't really know it until you have raced it," said the
"Now I know what to expect, I can be more relaxed about what lies ahead and even more focused on the racing.
"The most important thing for my development is to enjoy racing over
the next three weeks, give my best, and be happy with my performance."
Team principal Dave Brailsford admitted the build-up had been disrupted by Froome's crash.
However, the no nonsense Englishman had every confidence the eight
man team who will line-up in Brussels on July 6 will perform as well as
the team - in its previous incarnation as Team Sky - did.
"After the success of last year, we have decided to come into the race with joint leaders," said Brailsford.
"Geraint and Egan are both in great form. They trust each other and
we believe that this approach will best suit us as a Team by giving us
the greatest flexibility on the road and the best possible chance of
"They (all eight riders) are all supremely talented in their own
right as bike riders and also in great form, but their combined
strengths will ensure we are strong on both the flat and in the
Ineos team line-up:
Egan Bernal (COL), Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP), Michal Kwiatkowski
(POL), Gianni Moscon (ITA), Wout Poels (NED), Luke Rowe (GBR), Geraint
Thomas (GBR), Dylan van Baarle (NED)