Brailsford backs Froome for Vuelta challenge after Tour absence

By Sports Desk August 26, 2020

Dave Brailsford is backing Chris Froome to show his "remarkable" mental strength and recover from injury with a Vuelta a Espana challenge as he explained the decision to leave two of Team INEOS' top performers out of their Tour de France line-up.

INEOS last week named their Tour team but found no room for either Froome or Geraint Thomas, who have five general classification titles between them.

The hugely successful British outfit are instead again relying on Egan Bernal, the 2019 champion, as Froome and Thomas target the Vuelta and Giro d'Italia respectively.

Froome, 35, only returned to competitive racing in February after a horrific crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine left him with multiple serious injuries. He will join Israel Start-Up Nation next year.

Speaking at the team's season launch, INEOS general manager Brailsford outlined exactly why Froome and Thomas had been held back.

"They're both big champions," Brailsford said of the pair.

"Chris is obviously coming back from his accident. He's won more than anybody else in this current generation. He's a legend of the sport.

"But with a cycling team, the cycling season is spread over the Grand Tours, it's not all about one race. We look at our riders and see who's the best suited to go for the big races.

"We've decided for Geraint to focus on the tour of Italy, a very important race for us. To try to double up on the back of his Tour win and try to win the tour of Italy, that would be amazing.

"For Chris, he has a little bit longer to get back from his injury and then focus on the tour of Spain. He's won it before and he's on his way back.

"You've got to admire his tenacity and his mental strength to come back to where he has. It's remarkable. I'm sure he can get back to that level and challenge for the tour of Spain."

The Tour is going ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic, yet Bernal is confident the riders' competitive spirit will not be impacted by the crisis.

"I think the race will be the same," Bernal said. "With or without COVID, we will go full gas.

"The racing will be the same, but when we arrive in the hotel or at the start or the finish, it will be different. We will miss the people. Fortunately, they can see on the TV."

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