Bradley Wiggins says Ineos Grenadiers could win all three Grand Tours.
The 2012 Tour de France winner made the claim – while chatting to Orla Chennaoui and Adam Blythe - on the latest episode of The Breakaway after Egan Bernal pounced on the Zoncolan to tighten his grip on the pink jersey.
Lorenzo Fortunato claimed a maiden pro win on the fearsome Zoncolan as Bernal showed his mettle to ride clear of Simon Yates and his GC rivals on the steepest segment of the legendary climb.
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The move left Wiggins so impressed that he backed the team to potentially claim an unprecedented clean sweep of the Grand Tours.
“They [Ineos] were ever-present on that last climb, and the way they set the tempo with their strength in depth [shows] what a strong unit they are,” began Wiggins.
They struggled at the Tour [de France] last year but rectified that with Tao [Geoghegan Hart] at the Giro [in October], and this year, they could potentially win all three Tours.
Adam Blythe suggested that Bernal’s performance could see him force Ineos to change their Tour plans. The Colombian is not currently set to race in France. However, Wiggins thinks that Dave Brailsford will proceed with a Bernal-less Ineos for the second Grand Tour of the year.
I don’t think Dave [Brailsford] will change the plan. I think Geraint Thomas is looking every bit a Tour winner again.
"Dave’s goal has always been to win all three Grand Tours and it set up nicely now for Egan to go away and have a bit of a break, and let Geraint do his thing and try to win a second Tour. And then Bernal can come in at the end of the year and win the Vuelta. That would be a first ever in cycling.”
‘He is as tough as they come’ – Wiggins heaps praise on Bernal
'Bernal is as tough as they come'
Wiggins was also full of praise for Bernal, who is not to be underestimated.
"I would not underestimate him," said Wiggins.
On the bike he is as tough as they come - he is very much like Alberto Contador used to be.
"He is a real tough nut and he almost has a different persona on the bike. You can see that in the way he races - the aggression he shows when he attacks in the final and how relentless he is towards the line, chasing every second. It is a great quality."
The Giro continues on Sunday with a foray into Slovenia with a short 147km Stage 15 that features a rolling closing circuit tackled three times ahead of the finish in Gorizia.
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