Chris Froome has been left out of Team Ineos’ Tour de France squad.
There had been some doubt four-time winner Froome had the form to make the squad following injuries from a crash a year ago.
Geraint Thomas, who won in 2018, also misses out, with the team focusing on last year’s winner Egan Bernal and 2019 Giro d’Italia victor Richard Carapaz.
“Chris needs that little bit longer to get to the highest level,” said team boss Dave Brailsford.
Froome, who is leaving Ineos at the end of the current season, will instead lead them at the Vuelta a Espana in October, while Thomas will do so at the Giro d’Italia.
Froome, 35, has won seven Grand Tour races, including the Vuelta in 2011 and 2017, and the Giro d’Italia in 2018.
“Chris is a true champion who has demonstrated incredible grit and determination to come back from his crash last year,” added Brailsford.
“We want to support him to compete for another Grand Tour title and the Vuelta gives him that little bit more time to continue his progress to the top level.”
Thomas, 34, will attempt to win his second Grand Tour in Italy, also in October.
“Geraint will target the Giro and take on the opportunity to double up his Tour de France win with another Grand Tour title, with the aim of being the first Welshman to win it,” said Brailsford.
Ineos had the dilemma of deciding who was in the best form of the three Tour-winning riders in their ranks, with Froome in an unusually perilous position, having lost the most time during three crucial warm-up races in July and August – rebuilding as he is, following his recovery from a fractured right femur, a broken hip, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs.
Ineos’ policy is that whoever is the strongest rider going into the final week of any Grand Tour will be backed by the whole team – and they clearly did not want to take three riders to the Tour who could all be considered team leaders.
The team will now back 23-year-old Colombian Bernal to lead the team after strong performances in the warm-up races, including victory at the Tour d’Occitanie in July.
However, there are also some doubts over Bernal after he withdrew from the Criterium du Dauphine last Saturday – as a precaution to “rest a bad back,” according to team-mate Thomas.
Ineos – formerly Team Sky – have won the Tour de France each year since 2014 and have taken seven of the past eight Tours.
Brailsford added: “Egan will once again target the yellow jersey in France and we are very excited to give last year’s Giro winner, Richard Carapaz, his debut in this year’s Tour also.
“I am very proud that we have several current, and I am sure future, Grand Tour champions in the team.
“Selecting the right leader in the right race with the right support team is critical and has meant we have had to analyse all the latest information to make sure we are in the best position possible to optimise our performances in the coming months.”
Team Ineos Tour de France squad: Egan Bernal, Richard Carapaz, Andrey Amador, Jonathan Castroviejo, Michal Kwiatkowski, Luke Rowe, Pavel Sivakov, Dylan van Baarle
More to follow.