LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Defending champion Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas will spearhead Team Ineos's Tour de France challenge this year but boss Dave Brailsford said Chris Froome was "craving" a fifth title.
Froome missed the race last year after a terrible crash in training for the Criterium du Dauphine, fracturing his femur, hip, elbow and sternum, but is now back in training.
In his absence, Colombian Bernal, then 22, became the youngest winner in more than 100 years, with Welshman Thomas, the 2018 champion, in second place.
In a social media post from the British team, formerly Team Sky, Brailsford said they were planning around Bernal and Thomas as co-leaders on the Tour.
"You pencil in your plans at this time of year, but you always know that things can change in the sport," Brailsford said.
"As it stands at this moment in time, we are looking at Richard (Carapaz) going to race the Giro and try and retain his title there, and then for Geraint and Egan to take on the challenge of, and focus on, the Tour."
Briton Froome is training hard at a camp in Gran Canaria and is desperate to have the chance to try for a fifth Tour de France title and match Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
"Of course, Chris (Froome) coming back, he's still really craving that big fifth win and he's working very, very hard to get back to the level required to be competitive," Brailsford said. "That's what we are working on and that's where we are at now. It's a good position to be in."
Brailsford also confirmed that new signing Rohan Dennis, the world time trial champion, would ride the Giro d'Italia with Carapaz, while also focusing on the Tokyo Olympic Games.
"We have other riders like Rohan Dennis joining the team, who will also ride the Giro this year, but he has goals for the Olympics as well and that fits in nicely," Brailsford said. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)