BRITAIN will go into the Tour de France without a major contender for the yellow jersey for the first time in almost a decade after Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas were left out by Team Ineos.
Colombia’s defending champion Egan Bernal will lead the team as four-time Tour winner Froome instead focuses on the Vuelta a Espana in November, while 2018 Tour victor Thomas looks to the Giro d’Italia in October.
It is a significant moment in the history of a team who have won seven of the past eight Tours, six of them with a British rider, with Luke Rowe the only Briton in an eight-man squad.
Froome, who will leave Ineos to join the Israel Start-Up Nation squad next season, was targeting what would be a record-equalling fifth Tour crown, but his absence is ultimately not a surprise a year after he suffered multiple injuries at the Criterium du Dauphine.
The 35-year-old was back at the Dauphine last week alongside Bernal and Thomas but ended in 71st place.
‘I’ve had an incredible recovery from the big crash but I’m not confident I can really fulfil the necessary job that would be needed from me at this year’s Tour,’ said Froome. But while Froome’s absence was signposted, Thomas — a close second to Bernal last summer — had looked a more certain bet to be on the startline in Nice on August 29.