Cycling

Ex-champions Froome, Thomas left out of Ineos Tour de France team

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Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome at the 2018 Tour de France.
Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome at the 2018 Tour de France.
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas's absence from the formidable Team Ineos line-up for this year's race ushers in a new era with the accent on youth.

Defending champion Egan Bernal of Colombia and highly-rated Russian Pavel Sivakov are both 23 whilst last year's Giro d'Italia champion Richard Carapaz of Ecuador is 27.

Both 35-year-old Froome and Thomas, 34, have been set targets of achieving a team Grand Tour cleansweep with the former in the Vuelta a Espana (20 October to 8 November) and the latter the Giro (3-25 October).

Their absence means there will be no serious British contender for the yellow jersey for the first time since Bradley Wiggins won Le Grand Boucle in 2012.

Six of the team's seven victories in the past eight Tours were thanks to a British rider.

Froome will not get the chance to bring down the curtain on his hugely-successful spell with Ineos (formerly Team Sky) with a tilt for a fifth Tour yellow jersey as he "needs more time", according to team principal Dave Brailsford.

Froome has been trying to get back to peak condition after he was involved in a high-speed crash at last year's Criterium du Dauphine which came close to ending his career.

However, Froome, who broke his neck, femur, elbow, hip and ribs in the crash, conceded he is not in the shape required for the gruelling race which gets underway in Nice on August 29.

"I've had an incredible recovery from the big crash I had last year and I'm in a very fortunate position to be back racing now already," said Froome, who will be bidding to add a third Vuelta to his laurels having won in 2011 and 2017.

"But I'm not confident that I can really fulfil the necessary job that would be needed from me at this year's Tour de France.

"I think it's a lot more realistic targeting the Vuelta a Espana.

"It gives me a chance to really get stuck into something that's deliverable."

Brailsford had been fulsome in his praise of Froome when announcing the line-up even though relations are said to have been strained when the team decided not to renew his contract earlier this year.

Froome -- who had been with the team since it came into being in 2010 -- will ride for Israel Start Up Nation next season.

"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."

Thomas will target the Giro bidding to become the first Welshman to win it.

Thomas looked on the bright side of the new challenge that lay ahead for him.

"It's nice to finally just have a firm plan in place and know exactly what I'm doing, and try to get some sort of positive out of this year," he said.

"In 2017, I was in great shape, in similar form to what I was in '18 when I won the Tour.

"The Giro ended badly that year with a crash and it's something I've always wanted to go back to."

Froome will have to wait another year and see if he can equal the record of five Tour wins jointly-held by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Bernal intimated if he was fresh enough post the Tour he might offer to help Froome in the Vuelta.

"It's a bit strange to not have G and Froomey in the Tour, but I'm really excited to see what G will do in the Giro d'Italia," siad Bernal.

"Also in the Vuelta, who knows? Maybe I can go there and just try to help Froomey."

Ineos team for Tour de France

Andrey Amador (CRC), Egan Bernal (COL), Richard Carapaz (ECU), Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP), Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), Luke Rowe (GBR), Pavel Sivakov (RUS), Dylan van Baarle (NED)

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