I see Ineos racing fairly normally, despite not having the strongest gc rider on paper. They will look for an opportunity that arises in crosswinds, and if Porte is dropped, but so is Pogacar or Roglic, then that's a win for Ineos, and they will try to drive home that advantage. Ineos' best chance is that entering the Pyrenees, one of the Slovenians is out of contention, and Ineos still have 2 cards to play at that point, so they can double team that favourite. I doubt that Ineos would attack before the final climb though. "Long range" would be Carapaz attacking at the bottom of the final climb on stage 17 or 18 when a minute down on gc; that sort of scenario.So, I have been thinking about the Ineos strategy/tactics for taking on Pogacar and Roglic in the Tour. Given the strength they have combined with the possibility that they will need to send one of their GC contenders on early or relatively early attacks during stages, I was trying to game that out in the framework of an individual stage.
Assuming that is what they do, and I freely acknowledge that is an assumption - they could end up trying a different approach to winning the Tour - they would be hoping for Pogacar and/or Roglic to either be unable or unwilling to chase down the attack, or to have one of their other GC contenders come over the top of the Slovenians when the original attack is brought back. Which makes sense, as far as it goes.
But two thoughts occur: first, with two riders/teams chasing one rider/team, if the Slovenians are willing to work together to counter such an attack, it will blunt the effectiveness of the tactic.
Second, this does not even consider what the other teams in the race may want to do in such a scenario. While I think it overwhelmingly likely that the winner of the Tour will come from the Ineos team or Pogacar and Roglic, I don’t think all of the contenders are conceding the Tour. They may well have roles to play in chasing attacks down, if not in a realistic hope of winning the Tour, then of placing a rider on the podium, or even in the top 5 or 10. Their teams may not be much help, though I think Movistar at least may be able to do something if they function as a team, but the individual contenders themselves can assist to some degree.
These considerations do not necessarily make the early attack a hopeless cause, but it is not a tactic that I think it makes sense to base the team’s entire approach to the Tour around. I think that Ineos are going to have to have multiple approaches they are willing to utilize, and will have to probably make snap decisions about when to switch tactics. More than any other GT, I think this is where we find out if Ineos have more to work with than the generally more than sufficient strength of their team and riders.