Geraint Thomas expects even more debate about team leadership should he start next year’s Tour de France for Team Ineos alongside Chris Froome and Egan Bernal. He also says that Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos, is “just a genuine guy who loves his sport”.
Bernal became the first Colombian to win the Tour de France this year and the fourth rider from Team Ineos, formerly Team Sky.
Sir Bradley Wiggins has now retired, but four-time winner Froome is aiming to take part in next year’s race having suffered a broken leg in the lead-up to this year’s edition, while Thomas finished second this year after winning in 2018.
"You know what he's like," Thomas told ITV, referring to 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.”
The bigger question, according to Thomas, will be how other teams try to counter that.
"The other teams will have to answer those questions on the road,” he said. “We've always been honest, clear and communicated with each other, so it will be great to have that strength next year."
Conceding that he is “a lot closer to the end than the start” compared to Bernal, Thomas denied that he was past his best. “Certain stuff filters through to me and it spurs me on," he said.
The Welshman is also happy that the brief uncertainty over the team’s future has ended after Ineos took over team sponsorship in May.
Ineos was founded by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the UK’s richest man, a billionaire Brexit backer who was recently reported to be moving for tax reasons to Monaco, where Thomas and Froome are based.
Thomas seems to have a reasonably good (if slightly odd) relationship with Ratcliffe.
"Obviously that wasn't the best time," he said of the period when Sir Dave Brailsford was looking for a new sponsor. "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."