Thomas and Bernal to lead Tour de France team

28 Jun 2019

Thomas and Bernal to lead Tour de France team

Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal will be joint leaders of Team INEOS in the 2019 Tour de France, in what will be the Team’s first race at Le Tour under new ownership.

Jonathan Castroviejo, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Wout Poels, Luke Rowe and Dylan van Baarle complete the Team’s lineup for the 21-stage race, which starts in Brussels on Saturday 6th July.
Reigning Tour de France champion Thomas, who became the first-ever Welshman to win the race in 2018, will co-lead with Bernal, who heads into the race in winning form after triumphing at the Tour de Suisse last weekend.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas

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."
Thomas is excited about returning to the Tour, commenting: “Winning the Tour de France last year was the highlight of my professional cycling career and racing with the number one on my back is going to be special this year. The memories of 2018 will remain with me forever, but now I’m ready to create more with the Team this year.

"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. 
“We’ve got a really exciting blend of youth and experience in the Team – and it’s a group of riders who I know will be with me every step of the way and know what it takes to win Grand Tours. I can’t wait to pull on the Team INEOS jersey for the first time at the Tour de France in what is the biggest race of the year.”
Egan Bernal recently won the Tour de Suisse

Egan Bernal recently won the Tour de Suisse

Bernal, meanwhile, is excited about competing in only his second Tour de France, having played a leading role in Thomas’ 2018 success. 
“I have really good memories from the Tour last year,” he said. “It was my first Tour de France and also my first Grand Tour, so it was special. We enjoyed a great victory with G and it was something really special to be a part of. Of course, our ambition is to win the race again this year.
“Last year’s experience taught me a lot. 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. 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. I am looking forward to sharing leadership responsibilities with G and doing everything we can together to help Team INEOS win its first Tour.”
Sir Dave Brailsford

Sir Dave Brailsford

"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 success."
This year’s Tour will feature 30 categorised climbs, five mountain-top finishes and only 54 kilometres of time trialling, split between one team time trial and one individual time trial.

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “There is always a strong sense of anticipation before any Tour, but this one is that bit more special for us as it’s our first racing as Team INEOS. And whilst our preparation hasn’t been straightforward following Chris Froome’s recent crash, we will be at the start line with a really strong team that is hungry to win again.

“After the success of last year, we have decided to come into the race with joint leaders. 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 success.
“Alongside them, we have five of the riders who supported Geraint in his victory last year. They 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 mountains. We have also brought Dylan van Baarle into the Team. He was in top condition at the Dauphine and is relishing the opportunity ahead.”
Brailsford added: “Once again, it is a fantastic Tour de France route. The first week should see some great racing with the Team Time Trial on stage two and then the summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles a few days later. There are then some punishing climbs through the Massif Central and into the Pyrenees before one of the longest summit finishes in Tour history at Val Thorens on the final Saturday before Paris.
“It should be fantastic for the fans. These are three very special weeks every year. We always love riding in this race and we can’t wait for the start in Brussels.”
Team INEOS lineup for this year’s Tour de France:

Egan Bernal – Colombian – age 22
One of the brightest young talents in the sport, Egan Bernal’s star has continued to rise since joining the team in 2018. This season has seen the Colombian add overall victories at Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse to an already impressive palmarès. A crash on the eve of the Giro d’Italia saw Bernal forced to miss the Italian Grand Tour but he heads into July in great form, and is rightfully considered among the best pure climbers in the world.

Jonathan Castroviejo – Spanish – age 32
 Set for his 10th Grand Tour appearance this July, Jonathan Castroviejo is one of the most trusted all-rounders in the peloton. A decorated time trialist, with multiple national championships and a European title to his name, Castroviejo is also a key member of the team in the medium mountains. Comfortable setting a tempo on the climbs, he will hope to replicate his part in a winning 2018 Tour de France.

Michal Kwiatkowski – Polish – age 29
One of the classiest bike riders in the professional peloton, Michal Kwiatkowski has played a pivotal role in the team’s recent Grand Tour success with a series of selfless performances. The 2014 world champion has tasted success at Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico more recently, with a blend of all-round talent and experience making him an incredibly important member of the team.

Gianni Moscon – Italian – age 25
Making his second Tour de France appearance, Gianni Moscon has developed into a superb all-round talent. Able to compete in and win one-week stage races in his own right, the Italian’s climbing capabilities continue to develop, making him a key addition to the squad. Moscon supported Chris Froome to Vuelta a Espana victory in his Grand Tour debut and will hope to be part of yet more success in July.

Wout Poels – Dutch – age 31
With 12 Grand Tours under his belt to date, Wout Poels has made a name for himself with his heroics in the high mountains. The Dutch climber has played a vital role in four of Chris Froome’s Grand Tour victories and was part of the 2018 winning Tour lineup for good measure. A fun presence on the bus and around the team, Poels is also a fierce competitor and arrives fresh off fourth place overall at the Criterium du Dauphine.

Luke Rowe – British – age 29
Luke Rowe has proved to be a lucky charm down the years, contributing to a team victory in all four of his previous Tour de France appearances. Now set to make his fifth consecutive start, the Welshman has grown with the team over the years and has developed into a respected road captain. An invaluable presence on the flat and the wind, Rowe is also adept at setting a tempo at the head of the race for kilometre after kilometre.

Geraint Thomas – British – age 33
Starting the race in Brussels with the number one on his back, Geraint Thomas returns to the Tour 12 months after a dream race which saw him clinch the biggest result of his career. As comfortable in the mountains as he is on the time trial bike, Thomas’ all-round capabilities make him an ideal Grand Tour rider. Despite recently crashing out of the Tour de Suisse the Welshman has been training hard and heads into the race is strong form.

Dylan van Baarle – Dutch – age 27
Making his fourth Tour start but first for the team, Dylan van Baarle has been impressing with his climbing performances in the medium mountains. Building on a strong base that has seen him excel in both time trials and the Classics, the Dutchman claimed a stage victory at the recent Criterium du Dauphine in addition to overall success at Herald Sun Tour this season.