Bradley Wiggins has warned cycling’s top teams that Ineos Grenadiers look ready to “do something big” when the Volta a Catalunya starts on Monday, with Geraint Thomas heading up an all-star cast.
The week-long stage race kicks off with a 178.5km ride from Calella to Calella on Monday and Ineos are heading to Catalunya with a line-up bursting with talent.
As well as a former Tour de France winner in Thomas, Dave Brailsford has deployed 2019 Giro winner Richard Carapaz, high-profile new signing Adam Yates and the vastly experienced quartet of Rohan Dennis, Richie Porte, Luke Rowe and Jonathan Castroviejo.
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Speaking on the latest episode of his Eurosport podcast, Wiggins highlighted a “bloody brilliant” ride from Ineos at Milan-San Remo on Saturday as they drove the peloton up the famous Poggio and then delivered Tom Pidcock into 15th place, a performance which led their former great to describe them as the “team of the day”.
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And Wiggins feels even better is to come from Ineos when they hit the roads of Catalunya from Monday and really kick their season into gear, with Grand Tours looming large in their sights as always.
"Brilliant team, fantastic team,” said Wiggins. “I think they will do something. I think they are knocking at the door. They have got every other component right at the moment. They rode well at Milan-San Remo, they have got a bit of race miles in their legs. Obviously they have been at altitude before Paris-Nice. Carapaz, I've been watching him on Instagram with his training and he looks like he's been doing some good stuff.
I just think as a unit now, they are sort of poised to do something. I just feel they are going to do something big at the moment. And this could be this week.
“Maybe not with G, I'm not too sure where he is at. I'd like to see G do well. I think that race will suit him. He certainly looked good in Tirreno-Adriatico, but I get the feeling that they are poised to do something now.
“With that team as well, you get the sense with it that with Yates, Dennis, that they mean business in this one. This isn't just spreading their eggs across different races. I think this time next week we will be looking at a performance.”
With such an embarrassment of riches, there have been questions as to who will be the formal leader for Ineos on the road. Wiggins believes that the early-season form of Yates, who finished just 35 seconds off winner Tadej Pogacar at the UAE Tour, means he is likely to get the nod.
However, Wiggins believes that after impressing in patches at Tirreno-Adriatico, his former team-mate Thomas will be happy with animating the race for now, with bigger prizes in sight as he targets a second Tour de France title.
“I think Yates will probably be the leader based on his form up to this point,” said Wiggins. “He's ridden well in this race before and I don't think G will be too concerned about needing to be the leader and needing to put a statement out there. There is plenty of time for that in terms of what he is gunning for this year. And when G will be ready, G will be ready, there is no doubt about that.
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“I think the way that cycling has changed now... G is a racer through and through and he likes getting stuck in, for his mind more than anything, and racing with the handcuffs off really. He is not insecure enough that he needs to start putting a marker down to prove he is the one. I think he has got the faith within that team and he has done enough over the years to prove that he is capable of doing it.
“I just think for him, even if he is not leading the race this week, it would be nice for him to do a performance for someone like Yates where he tears the race up a climb and is one of the last few riders left, and gets all the praise like we saw with Rohan Dennis at the Giro last year. A performance like that from G will go a long way.”
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