Ineos name 2019 champion Egan Bernal in multi-pronged Tour de France squad

Ineos Grenadiers have named the 2019 champion Egan Bernal among their Tour de France squad, as part of a multi-pronged assault on the race.

Bernal suffered a horrific crash in January 2022 when he rode into a bus at high speed in his home country, Colombia, while training. His long road to recovery has ramped up in recent weeks with encouraging appearances at the Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine, but a serious challenge for the yellow jersey appears unlikely against the sheer strength of reigning champion Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and two-time winner Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates).

Ineos’s best hope in the general classification may therefore lie with Bernal’s teammates, Dani Martinez and Carlos Rodriguez. Martinez was set to challenge for a podium finish last year before falling ill in the middle of the race, and the 27-year-old Colombian already has some impressive stage-race wins on his palmares at the Dauphine (2020) and Tour of the Basque Country (2022).

Rodriguez is the reigning Spanish national champion and a prodigious talent for whom Ineos hold high hopes. The 22-year-old has never ridden the Tour before but finished seventh last year at the Vuelta a Espana in what was his first grand tour. Alongside the champion pedigree of Bernal and the podium potential of Martinez, it makes for a varied but potentially conflicting trio of team leaders.

And that is not where Ineos’s race ends. Tom Pidock won a sensational victory atop Alpe d’Huez last year which became the focus of one episode of Netflix’s docu-series, Tour de France: Unchained. Pidcock could himself climb the general classification ranks, having finished 16th last year while sacrificing himself to help Geraint Thomas on to the podium. But given Ineos’s plethora of GC options, Pidcock is more likely to go for individual stage wins like that on Alpe d’Huez, where he used his supreme descending skills to speed away from rivals before the final climb. Pidcock might even be eyeing a stint wearing the yellow jersey in what is a gruelling opening week in the Pyrenees, before the big contenders take charge in the Alps.

Thomas and Luke Rowe, the long-time road captain of Ineos (formerly Team Sky), are two notable omissions. Thomas was shifted to focus on the Giro d’Italia this year and fell agonisingly short of overall victory, and the 2020 Tour de France champion, who is now 37, has admitted he may never ride the race again. Rowe has missed out on selection to other domestiques.

Jonathan Castroviejo and Michal Kwiatkowski bring vast experience on the road, as does Omar Fraile – who himself might fancy trying for a breakaway stage win if allowed to roam free – and Doncaster’s 24-year-old Ben Turner makes up the eight-man squad.

Ineos Grenadiers: Tour de France 2023 squad

Egan Bernal

Jonathan Castroviejo

Omar Fraile

Michal Kwiatkowski

Daniel Martinez

Tom Pidcock

Carlos Rodriguez

Ben Turner

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