Thomas sees Team Ineos going from strength to strength

Geraint Thomas expects victorious Team Ineos to return to next year’s Tour de France even stronger with Chris Froome targeting a record-equalling fifth Tour title.

With champagne corks still popping after Egan Bernal made it seven wins out of the last eight for the British-registered squad, Thomas was looking forward to 2020, when Ineos could send their strongest line-up ever.

Froome missed this year’s race – and a shot at a record-equalling fifth Tour title – after suffering serious injuries in a horror crash on a recon ride at the Criterium du Dauphine in June.

It remains to be seen if the seven-time Grand Tour winner can get back to the level required to compete at the highest level again – or how the team would marshal their resources if he does – but Thomas expects to see him on the start line in Nice next year.

“You know what he’s like,” Thomas said of the 34-year-old Froome. “When he’s not on his bike, all his attention has shifted to his rehab and it’s remarkable to see how quickly he’s improved. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go and see him and catch up soon.

“Next year’s Grand Depart for the Tour is in Nice, which is just down the road from where we train.

“If all three of us are there on the start line – me, Froomey and Egan – jeez, we’re going to have some questions about leadership.

“But the other teams will have to answer those questions on the road. We’ve always been honest, clear and communicated with each other, so it will be great to have that strength next year.”

Thomas arrived at this year’s Tour as defending champion but had to settle for second place, a bittersweet result considering it was at least a team-mate that took victory instead.

Despite any disappointment he may feel about surrendering his crown Thomas – who was clear on Saturday night he believes he can win the Tour again – said anyone suggesting he might be over the hill only inspires him.

“I don’t read it, although certain stuff filters through to me and it spurs me on,” he said.

“To be honest, I’m a lot closer to the end than the start: Me and Egan are on separate spectrums, but it’s great to be having this success.

“I’ve had my Olympic success and it’s pleasing to have some more on the Tour de France.”

The sight of Sir Dave Brailsford and his team toasting success on the Champs-Elysees is a very familiar one, but this is the first victory as Team Ineos since Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s takeover in May.

At the start of the year, what was Team Sky did not know if they had a future beyond this season, but though they have faced questions over the environmental impact of their new paymasters’ business operations, Thomas now believes they have a bright future under Britain’s richest man.

Team INEOS Official Unveiling
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, left, bought what is now Team Ineos earlier this year (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Obviously that wasn’t the best time,” Thomas said of the uncertainty. “But it’s amazing that we should find such a great boss to come in and take over the whole thing.

“You would never know that Jim is worth billions and billions: He’s just a genuine guy who loves his sport and it’s great that he’s backed the team and left us to carry on what we’d been doing before.

“I speak to him quite a lot – I sent him a quick video when I was in the back of one of the commissaires’ cars with a bottle of champagne. I promised I wouldn’t overdo it and I was only having the one.”

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