Bradley Wiggins has tipped Egan Bernal to win the Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta this season – and repeated his claim that Ineos Grenadiers could sweep all three Grand Tours.
Ahead of a shortened (and very wet) Stage 16 at the Giro d’Italia, Bernal had a 1:33 advantage over Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) after lighting up the race in the first two weeks.
The Colombian was sent to the Giro to step up his return from a back injury, while Geraint Thomas was posted to the Tour de France to wrestle back the title he won in 2018.
Evenepoel: I need to improve to challenge Pogacar, Roglic, Bernal
Adam Yates is down to lead Ineos at La Vuelta in August, but Wiggins is tipping Bernal to swoop in and lead the British team in Spain after triumphing in Italy.
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Asked on his latest podcast if Ineos could win all three Grand Tours in 2021, Wiggins said: “I think so.
“I think its setting up nicely now if Geraint is on track for what I think he’s on track for, which is a second Tour win.
“It leaves Egan to have a summer of training, have a bit of a rest after this, and come back for the Vuelta.
“And the Vuelta suits him. He’d have won all three Grand Tours then himself, which is obviously a big focus for him to have won all three Grand Tours.
“Especially after last year and Geraint to win a second Tour. It suits everyone really.”
Can Thomas beat Pogacar and Roglic in France?
Thomas will face tough competition at the Tour from defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and the nearly-man in France, Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma).
Jumbo-Visma also possess a stellar cast to rival Ineos’, making the Welshman’s challenge even trickier.
Thomas will be joined by the last two Giro winners – Tao Geoghegan Hart and Richard Carapaz – and Richie Porte, who finished on the podium in 2020 with Trek-Segafredo.
But despite the riches available to Ineos, Wiggins insists Thomas is the clear leader heading to France.
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“Tao will be the first to put his efforts into Geraint winning the Tour. Let’s not make any mistakes, Geraint is still the big Tour leader,” said Wiggins.
“He’s the biggest name in the sport for Ineos. He’s looking every bit that Geraint of a couple of years ago.
“I just know Tao, what he’s like, he’ll be capable of winning the Tour one day that’s for sure but this year he’ll get more satisfaction from helping Geraint win the Tour.
“They’ve got such strength in depth. It’s what happens when you don’t have a budget, you can afford to have everyone.
“It almost shows how bad they did last year. I know they won the Giro with Tao but he wasn’t one of their highest paid riders last year.
So, it’s an incredible unit of riders. On paper, they should win all three Grand Tours really.
Ineos chief Dave Brailsford has been vocal about how Ineos have changed their philosophy, shifting from defensive to attacking as they seek to change their reputation.
Bernal has impressed at the Giro, particularly on the gravel, but has largely been protected by Italian sensation Filippo Ganna.
‘He is as tough as they come’ – Wiggins heaps praise on Bernal
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