Bradley Wiggins believes the nature of Team Ineos’ response to their Tour de France disappointment will have won them plenty of new fans.
The team’s Tour strategy has gone badly wrong, with no contenders in the mix for the general classification and team leader Egan Bernal forced to abandon the race in its third week.
But Ineos pair Michal Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz produced a famous one-two on Thursday in Stage 18, crossing the line together as Kwiatkowski was awarded the stage win and Carapaz rode into the polka dot jersey.
“They’ve really endeared themselves to the public,” Wiggins said.
“They would have won a lot of fans in the last few days. (Richard) Carapaz especially because he had been looking a shadow of the man that won the Giro d’italia last year in impressive style.
'A brilliant day for Ineos' - Watch Kwiatkowski and Carapaz's special winning moment
It’s clear the decision made in terms of leadership was the wrong one. The statement Ineos put out the other day, it was quite a generic statement in terms of ‘we need to find a team that’s capable of winning the Tour de France on the coaching side’.
“I think it was quite unfair on the likes of these guys (Carapaz and Kwiatkowski) because he’s proved the last few days what a class act he is and Kwiatkowski as well. It was a bit unfair that the whole team took the brunt of the disappointment of this Tour."
The fact that the two riders crossed the line together without racing for the stage win led to questions in the post-race interviews about whether the victory was a collective one rather than truly Kwiatkowski’s first Tour de France win.
'I had goosebumps. I've had good moments in cycling, but that was something special' - Kwiatkowski
But Wiggins says such questions are slightly unfair after such a strong performance.
“They’ve probably manufactured that themselves by racing to the line the way they did, because it leads to questions like that (about ‘collective victory’)," he said. "It’s not really a collective victory, they’ve had to pedal the bikes. Those two did a fantastic job today and have done all race.
“It’s his first stage win of the Tour de France and it kind of gets taken away from him by a question like that. That is a huge result and they’ve done that the pair of them.”