Tour de France 2019: Geraint Thomas puts 'trust' in Team Ineos co-leader Egan Bernal

Media playback is not supported on this device

Tour de France 2019: Deep down we'll know who's best - Geraint Thomas

Defending Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas believes he and Team Ineos co-leader Egan Bernal have the "trust" to help each other flourish.

Ineos decided to share the leadership after four-time Tour winner Chris Froome suffered multiple serious injuries in a crash last month.

Having worked with Froome in winning last year's title, Thomas is confident he can have a similar relationship with 22-year-old Colombian Bernal.

"We're not rivals," the Welshman said.

"I know him less well [than Froome] but I still get on with him really well. He can speak English, which is a massive plus, and he's a really humble, family-orientated guy and I trust him.

"That's the key - the communication and the trust, which Froomey and I had.

"I wouldn't hand him the yellow jersey but, if I knew he was in a better place and he was going a lot better than me and he could win… We'll have to see on the road.

"At the end of the day, we'll know deep down who's in the better position at the time. As long as we trust each other and nobody does anything out of the blue, we should be fine."

Having played an important supporting role to Froome in four Tour victories, Thomas outperformed his team-mate in France last year to become the first Welshman - and only the third Briton - to win cycling's most famous race.

Froome was expected to lead Team Ineos - formerly known as Team Sky - for this edition but he is unlikely to race again this year after fracturing his femur, elbow and ribs in last month's high-speed crash.

In his absence, and with last year's runner-up Tom Dumoulin also missing, many believe this Tour will be one of the most open and difficult to predict in recent memory.

"I hope not," Thomas joked. "Hopefully one of us wins and it's really uneventful."

This will be the team's first Tour under their new name and, having accounted for six of the race's past seven winners, Ineos will be among the favourites once again.

Geraint Thomas won last year's Tour with Chris Froome's support but Froome is absent after a serious crash
Geraint Thomas won last year's Tour with Chris Froome's support but Froome is absent after a serious crash

What is unclear, however, is which of co-leader will have the best chance of claiming the yellow jersey.

Thomas has had a difficult build-up, having crashed out of last month's Tour de Suisse - which was won by Bernal - and being forced to abandon the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in March with stomach problems.

Given the 33-year-old Cardiff-born rider's disrupted preparations and Bernal's fine recent form, Ineos team principal Dave Brailsford believes splitting the leadership duties was the logical conclusion.

"You've got to adapt. Given the scenario, it feels to us like the right decision," Brailsford said.

"We assess things on reality and the reality is he [Thomas] has been training really, really well and I think he's in great shape. On the back of that, that's how we set out the team."

Media playback is not supported on this device

Geraint Thomas's Guide to the 2019 Tour de France

Top Stories

Also in Sport