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The Tour de France will be missing two cyclists who have won it five times since 2013

Geraint Thomas (left) and Chris Froome have been left off the INEOS team for this year's Tour de France. (Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press File)
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Chris Froome, four-time winner of the Tour de France, and Geraint Thomas, winner of the 2018 race, will not ride for Team INEOS when the iconic race begins later this month.

Egan Bernal, the defending champion, will lead the team when the race begins Aug. 29 after being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Richard Carapaz, the 2019 Giro d’Italia champion, will be Bernal’s main support rider. Bernal, a native of Colombia, became the youngest Tour de France champion in 110 years when he won at the age of 22.

Instead, INEOS will allocate its top riders among the three biggest races. Froome will focus on the Vuelta a Espana Oct. 20-Nov. 8, calling that “a more realistic” option. Thomas will ride in the Giro d’Italia Oct. 3-25.

The decision denies Froome the opportunity to tie the record of five Tour titles held by four riders. Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven wins because of doping violations.

Froome, who is leaving the team for the Israel Nation Start-Up squad after the current season, continues to recover from multiple fractures he suffered in a freakish crash last year and “needs that little bit longer to get to the highest level,” David Brailsford, the general manager of Team INEOS, told the BBC.

Froome, 35, has won seven Grand Tour races, including the Vuelta in 2011 and 2017; the Giro d’Italia in 2018 and the four Tours.

“Chris is a true champion who has demonstrated incredible grit and determination to come back from his crash last year,” Brailsford said of Froome. “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.”

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