After a two-year drought, we look at the chances of Ineos Grenadiers winning this year's Tour de France, and we also have our cycling picks for the three grand tours of 2022.
The new cycling season may be over a month away, but the top teams like Ineos Grenadiers will have already planned out their strategy for the upcoming season as they look to win the three grand tours.
Over the last ten years, Ineos Grenadiers (formally known as Team Sky) has won the Tour de France on seven occasions. With no win now in two years for Ineos, that represents a drought of significant proportions.
So can the Ineos general manager Dave Brailsford mastermind another victory for his team in this year's tour?
Well, if you believe the odds from the best sports betting sites in Canada, it doesn't look like it. Ineos don't have a rider in the top 3 of the betting for this year's tour. The highest placed rider they have in the betting is the 2019 winner, Egan Bernal, who is the fourth favourite at 10.00 with Betway. Let's have a look at these cycling odds.
|2022 Tour de France Winner Betting|
|Enric Mas Nicolau||29.00|
After Bernal, they have a whole host of riders showing how strong the squad is. The winner from 2018, Geraint Thomas, is 29.00, which is the same odds for Richard Carapaz. Also in the running for Ineos is Adam Yates, who is 41.00 to win his first grand tour.
Can Ineos win the Tour de France in 2022?
The answer has to be yes, they can win it. But for many reasons, I don't think they will.
First up, Egan Bernal has already stated he isn't that keen on riding in the race. The Columbian has won the Tour de France in 2019, and Giro d'Italia in 2021.
He has stated his desire - both publicly and to Grenadiers' general manager Dave Brailsford - is to focus on the Vuelta a España this season. Bernal needs to win the Vuelta to complete the full set of grand tours, and he is at odds with his team about which race to focus on.
Bernal has also said he will follow out his team's wishes and race in France. But it's hardly an ideal situation for Brailsford and the team.
Winning the Tour de France is difficult enough at the best of times. It must be near impossible if your best hope and main rider's heart isn't really in it to start with.
Another reason why I don't see Bernal or any other Ineos rider standing on the top of the podium in Paris this year is the sheer quality of Tadej Pogacar. The Slovenian is only 23 and already has back-to-back tour wins to his name. He has the strength and quality to dominate in France for many years to come. Bernal will find it difficult to beat Pogacar.
And in the unlikely event that Pogacar is off the boil, or crashes out of the tour, Bernal and Ineos also have the problem of the Jumbo-Visma team, mainly in the form of Primoz Roglic and Jonus Vingegaard.
Team Jumbo-Visma are nearly as strong as Ineos in France, if not stronger. Making their task far more difficult. Given all this, it's easy to see why Bernal favours the Vuelta!
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What about the Giro d'Italia?
If winning the Tour de France is a long shot for Ineos, they have to focus on making sure they win the other two grand tours. They have a roster of riders capable of attacking all three fronts, so the Giro is a definite possibility.
In the running to win this year's Giro d'Italia, 2019 race winner, Richard Carapaz is the betting favourite for Ineos.
Carapaz was a member of the Movistar team when he won the race - his only grand tour to date - back in 2019.
The Ecuadorian has all the tools at his disposal to win the race again. He clearly has the pedigree having already won the race, and he has the support of a strong team around him in Ineos.
At odds of 2.87, he may be a touch short. But he's the favourite for this race for a reason, and it's because everyone knows this is a race Ineos are planning their strategy around.
If further proof were needed, Ineos has won this race for the past two years. In 2020, Tao Geoghegan Hart was the surprise winner, and then in 2021, Egan Bernal won Pink Jersey for his team.
Can Anyone Dethrone Roglic In Spain?
The final grand tour of the year is the Vuelta a España. Despite the meticulous planning that goes into the year ahead, the Vuelta is a hard one to plan for and therefore predict.
This is because it comes so late in the season, and in that time plenty can change. And with it coming just a few weeks after the conclusion of the Tour de France, decisions on who rides in it can be taken at short notice.
It's probably better to wait until closer to the time to predict this race. But two things are for sure, well three in fact.
One, Bernal certainly wants to win it; Two, Ineos has the strength to go for all three tours, and they're probably the only team that does; Three, unless injured, it's almost certain that Roglic will be there - it's going to take a lot to stop him from attempting a fourth win.
Don't discount Bernal though. He clearly has the desire to win this race, and he also has a team capable of getting him to the finish line first.