Though there are now less than three weeks to go until the Grand Départ in Copenhagen, the final make-up of Ineos Grenadiers' Tour de France line-up remains up in the air. With no clear and obvious leader to rally behind, the team’s approach and strategy is less certain than in past Tours, and consequently so is the line-up, with multiple riders still in the mix to represent them.
The presence of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) means the British teams are no longer the front-runners they once were, but they’re still hoping to build a team capable of challenging for the yellow jersey.
The guaranteed selections
Over the course of the season, two riders have established themselves as Ineos’ best GC prospects for the Tour de France: Dani Martínez and Adam Yates. Martínez claimed overall victory at Itzulia Basque Country in April, while Yates finished second at the UAE Tour, where he was the only rider to put Pogačar under any kind of pressure, and both teamed up to place third and fourth respectively at Paris-Nice.
The main concern surrounding both is their ability to translate these stronger single week showings over the course of a three-week Grand Tour. As much as Martínez impressed to finish fifth while working for Egan Bernal at last year’s Giro, that result is his only top 20 finish at a Grand Tour, and he’s never before had to bear the responsibility that comes with leadership status at the highest level. And though Yates has had experience of doing so, a lack of consistency means he’s still never made a GC podium.
So while there’s no doubting either’s place on the team, whether either of them will be assigned outright leadership status remains unclear for now.
As for the supporting roles, Filippo Ganna’s name has been pencilled in since he opted to skip the Giro, and his position has surely been solidified following victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné time trial. As well as being the favourite to win the opening stage, the Italian’s huge engine is expected to be of huge importance during both the flat stages and on the lower slopes of climbs.
As a stalwart of the team, it would be a major surprise if Luke Rowe was not selected. The Brit hasn’t missed a Tour de France since 2014, and is firmly established as the team’s road captain. Similarly, Michał Kwiatkowski’s all-round ability has made him an invaluable domestique, and is therefore surely set to make his sixth successive Tour appearance for the team — provided the knee injury that forced him to abandon the Dauphiné doesn’t linger.
Those in contention
Whether or not Geraint Thomas is selected may depend on how well he rides at the Tour de Suisse. As yellow jersey winner in 2018 and runner-up in 2020, he has better Tour credentials than anyone else in the squad. but as much as Ineos would surely love to harness that, the Welshman has lacked form all season, failing to crack the top ten in any of his four stage race appearances.
Though Tao Geoghegan Hart did not sound confident of being selected when asked in an interview during the early stages of the Dauphine, his eighth-place finish on GC must have improved his chances.
Should either or both these riders fail to convince Ineos, they would probably want to bring in another climbing domestique, putting 21-year-old Carlos Rodríguez (for whom this would be a Grand Tour) or Pavel Sivakov (even though he rode the Giro) into contention. But with more diluted GC expectations compared to previous Tours, they might instead opt for Tom Pidcock and/or Ethan Hayter as exciting wildcard options who have the potential to win stages, at the expense of being reliable climbing domestiques. Pidcock’s form is unknown having not raced since April, but Hayter has been on fire at the Dauphiné, making the podium in three different stages.
The addition of Ganna to the engine room has put into doubt the selection of two of the constants from recent Tour line-ups, Jonathan Castroviejo and Dylan van Baarle. As a feature of every Ineos Tour line-up since he signed in 2018, leaving Castroviejo would be a big call, so Van Baarle might be more at risk. Despite winning Paris-Roubaix this spring, the team may be less reluctant to drop him considering he’s on his way to Jumbo-Visma next season.
Those missing out
Following the serious injury that ruled Egan Bernal out of racing for such a long time, Richard Carapaz would have been the most obvious rider to step in as leader for the Tour de France. But it was instead decided that the Ecuadorian would keep to his initial plan of targeting the Giro d’Italia, and the toll his ride took there to finish second overall means he won't be fresh enough to return to the Tour and try and improve upon his third-place finish from last year.
The same applies for his right-hand man at the Giro, Richie Porte, who won’t be riding one last Tour before retiring at the end of the season. Remarkably, it’ll be the first Tour the Australian has missed since 2010, and if Ineos find themselves light in the mountains, they may regret taking him to the Giro rather than the Tour.
Despite winning the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali and Tour de Hongrie, Eddie Dunbar continues to find himself out of favour when it comes to Grand Tours, and won’t be selected for the Tour having also been snubbed for the Giro. Another potential climbing domestique, Laurens De Plus, is also set to miss out having failed to find any form during his second season riding for the team.
There might have been a temptation to select riders from the exciting influx of young talent that has emerged this season, as they did with Ben Tulett at the Giro. Luke Plapp in particular looks like a potential future yellow jersey challenger, and Classics men Ben Turner and Magnus Sheffield could make for very handy rouleur domestiques. But none have been deemed as quite ready for the Tour de France, and their Grand Tour debuts will come at a later date.