Chris Froome has been left out of the Team Ineos line-up for the Tour de France – denying him the chance of a record-equalling fifth title.
Froome’s place in the squad was in doubt after a lack of form, including at the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month where he finished 71st.
Geraint Thomas, who became the first Welshman to win the French event in 2018, is another notable absentee.
Image: Chris Froome with Team Ineos principal Sir Dave Brailsford
Instead, the team has selected defending champion Egan Bernal for their leadership with the support of 2019 Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz. The delayed event starts on 29 August.
Froome, who missed last year’s Tour de France due to serious injuries sustained last June, was bidding to join all-time greats Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain as a five-time champion of cycling’s most prestigious race.
Froome is set to leave Ineos to join the Israel Start-Up Nation squad for next season.
The 35-year-old had made the Tour his number one target as he has spent more than a year rehabilitating from the career-threatening injuries suffered in a crash at the Criterium du Dauphine last year.
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Froome will instead go to the Vuelta a Espana, due to be held from 20 October, while 2018 Tour winner Thomas looks to the Giro d’Italia.
Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “Chris is a legend of our sport, a true champion who has demonstrated incredible grit and determination to come back from his crash last year.
“We want to support him to compete for another Grand Tour title and the Vuelta gives him that little bit more time to continue his progress to the top level.”
The absence of the 34-year-old Thomas as well as Froome suggests Brailsford is looking to Bernal, Carapaz, and the emerging Pavel Sivakov as the future of his team.
“Egan will once again target the yellow jersey in France and we are very excited to give last year’s Giro winner, Richard Carapaz, his debut in this year’s Tour also,” he added.
“Geraint will target the Giro and take on the opportunity to double up his Tour de France win with another Grand Tour title, with the aim of being the first Welshman to win it.”
Source : Sky News