(Reuters) - Team Ineos lack their usual strength and will not be able to control the Tour de France as they usually do, rival team manager Jonathan Vaughters said on Wednesday.
The British outfit, formerly Team Sky, have dominated the Tour de France in the past decade, winning seven of the last eight editions with Chris Froome taking four GC titles.
With Froome and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas both left out of this year’s team, Colombia’s Egan Bernal is the sole leader as he tries to retain the title he won last year.
One of the most notable aspects of the opening four stages of the race has been the sight of Ineos riders tucked in the peloton rather than driving the pace off the front.
Instead it is Jumbo-Visma, the Dutch team of favourite Primoz Roglic, which has been far more pro-active.
“Ineos are off their game. They’re not what they have been in the past years,” Vaughters, general manager of EF Pro Cycling, said in an interview with Eurosport and GCN.
“It’s going to be a harder race for them to win. If Bernal wins, which he very much could do because I think he’ll be pretty incredible the third week of the race, it’ll be more of an individual win rather than a crushing team win.”
Ineos/Team Sky’s Tour victories have been masterminded by team boss Dave Brailsford and Nicolas Portal but sporting director Portal died suddenly of a heart attack in March.
Brailsford said in the Tour build-up that he was an impossible man to replace.
While Jumbo Visma so far look like the form team, Vaughters says they could burn out if they are not careful.
“Jumbo-Visma are obviously doing a lot better and showing their strength early,” the American said. “The risk is they fry themselves in the first 10 days and don’t have anything left.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar
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