Or so the story seems to be going for some people. Before even reading this article from Cyclist this morning, I had a few comments come across my various feeds bemoaning the fact that Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas were not called to join Ineos’ TDF roster this year. And not because they deserved to be there, necessarily, but rather that they were British and Ineos is a British team, etc.
I admit to having a soft spot for Canadians – I was ‘that close’ to putting money down on Ryder Hesjedal at the beginning of the 2012 Giro (50 to 1 odds!) and I really wouldn’t have minded Mike Woods outsprinting Valverde and Bardet in the Worlds two years ago – but I’ve never had a tribal feeling about ‘my people’, a particular athlete, or any sports team.
I know I’m not alone, but living in Europe makes me feel like I’m missing out sometimes, especially when it comes to football. The city of Marseille enacted a last-minute law the other day, banning the wearing of Paris Saint-Germain jerseys in the city (later rescinded) tomorrow because PSG is in the finals of the Champions League and they are afraid that their supporters might be mauled by Olympique de Marseille fans. I’ve heard stories about rival teams in Glasgow and Manchester over the years and I’m sure the list goes on and on. Hell, even docile Canada has had a couple of hockey riots over the last couple of decades, one of which I was there to see the charred ruins of (1994).
I understand how people can get caught so deeply in these trivial things (it’s sport, for goodness sake!), but it still makes me weep for humankind when stories like this pop up. The article above says that many comments from fans of Ineos were aimed at Colombian Egan Bernal, always the team’s choice for GC at the Tour, but in some people’s minds, somehow now the reason two ageing British riders have been left off the team.
Finally, although we might like to think of some teams as being British (Ineos), American (Trek-Segafredo) or Belgian (Deceuninck-Quickstep), their rosters very rarely reflect this.
Ineos: 21 of 30 riders are not British
Trek-Segafredo: 26 out of 28 riders are not American
Deceuninck-Quickstep: 21 out of 30 riders are not Belgian
If the riders aren’t majority British/American/Belgian then why would anyone expect the Tour de France team to be made up of them? I guess that history has something to do with this: there are probably a good number of Ineos supporters who didn’t even know what pro cycling was before Bradley Wiggins won the Tour in 2012. Since then, Sky/Ineos have completely dominated the Tour de France, winning every single Tour (with a British rider) except 2014 (Nibali) and last year (Bernal…with Ineos).
For me, I have to say it brings me a little joy to see some chinks in the Ineos armour, only because I hate to see one team win so much. Then again, they still have the defending TDF champion on the team, backed up with some fantastic (and non-British) helpers in the mountains (last year’s Giro winner Richard Carapaz, Pavel Sivakov, Michal Kwiatkowski, and few others who any team would be happy to have). And then there’s Luke Rowe, super-domestique par excellence, and yes, British! I’m not convinced that an Ineos team that is less British on the road is going to be less likely to win the Tour in 4 weeks.