Ineos Grenadiers must be prepared to “lose the race massively” in a bid to unseat Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) in the red jersey at La Vuelta.
The British team boast three riders in the top 10 – Carlos Rodriguez (fourth at 3’55”), Pavel Sivakov (ninth at 7’06”) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (10th at 7’37”) – but on their own, it is hard to see any of them putting Evenepoel under pressure in the second half of the race.
But suppose they worked as a team?
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Jumbo-Visma showed how to exploit a numerical advantage with a phenomenal two-pronged assault on Tadej Pogacar at the Tour de France. An extraordinary spell on Stage 11 saw Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic take it in turns to attack the Slovenian, with their combined efforts eventually paying off later in the stage as the two-time defending champion cracked.
Adam Blythe believes Ineos will have to play it differently at the Vuelta given Evenepoel’s strength on the climbs, suggesting they send one of their GC hopes up the road early on a stage to put the Belgian and Quick-Step on the back foot.
“It’s always that conundrum where we expect riders with strength in numbers to be able to do something,” said Adam Blythe.
“Ultimately, when they get on the second-to-last climb, the last climb of the day, it’s all down to the individual. Team-mates can help to a certain extent, but if Remco’s going up the road at 400 watts, and your team-mate is going at 380, they’re not good… you’re all on your own on those climbs.
“What I’m hoping is that they [Ineos] start to send riders up the road early on to put Quick-Step under quite a lot of pressure, but to do that they have to be willing to lose the race massively, willing to lose that podium position.”

‘Attack, attack, attack!’ – Jumbo-Visma try to crack Pogacar in thriller

The main problem for Ineos is that while Roglic and Vingegaard were close to Pogacar at the Tour, Evenepoel does not need to tire himself out following riders already adrift in the GC battle. The other problem is that Rodriguez, Sivakov and Geoghegan Hart might not be keen to launch mission impossible and risk blowing up.
“That’s the difficulty with those three riders,” said Blythe.
“Carlos Rodriguez – first ever Grand Tour, really young – of course he’s going to be really happy with how things have gone and how he’s sitting on the GC.
“Pavel Sivakov, long-touted as a Grand Tour winner from his days as an under-23, he’s often had to work for other riders, but I think he’d like to string three really consistent weeks together and see where that takes him.
“Tao Geoghegan Hart is one of them that’s won a Grand Tour before out of those three. I think he would like to [do the same], to prove to himself that he’s still got what it takes to do that.
“I don’t see any of those three wanting to lay on the line at the start of one of the mountain stages and risk losing their [current] position.”
Rodriguez, 21, has emerged as Ineos’ brightest light at the Vuelta amid the struggles of expected leader Richard Carapaz.
“If you look at how much [Rodriguez] has progressed, he’s progressed probably even more than Remco has, bringing his time trial down by a minute,” added Blythe.
“He’s a very young guy; he’s going places, and it’s his first Grand Tour. He’s learning. I don’t think he has that same pressure on him that Remco has, that same expectation.
“This is a massive learning curve for him, and a massive boost for Ineos, [who’ve] got this rider now, who’s very young, [they] can bring him up and invest a lot in him.”
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