Chris Froome’s campaign to repeat his 2013 Tour de France victory was clarified somewhat on Monday morning, with Team Sky naming the eight riders who will back the Briton when the race begins on July 4.
Australian rider Richie Porte has, as expected, been confirmed for what is his fifth Tour de France. He had a frustrating Giro d’Italia campaign as Sky leader and was forced out of the race with illness, but will hope to be back to full strength for the Tour.
Also backing Froome will be the new British champion Pete Kennaugh, fellow Britons Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe, Irish rider Nicolas Roche, the Czech Leopold König and Dutchman Wout Poels.
Froome said that the team were counting down the days to Saturday. “We can’t wait to get started and we are up for the challenge ahead,” he stated.
“Last year’s disappointment is this year’s motivation for Team Sky. From the moment I crashed out in 2014 I’ve had the burning desire to get back to this year’s Tour in the best possible shape.
“I’m ready and I’m fortunate to have a strong team around me selected to meet the many different challenges of this year’s race – from the cobbles to the climbs.”
Team Principal Dave Brailsford said that the team had carefully studied the route of this year’s race and had picked Froome’s eight team-mates on the basis of that. He said that those given the nod were the ones they believed would best deliver the race strategy.
“Inevitably it is always a difficult decision,” he said, perhaps acknowledging that some riders may be disappointed at being left out. “We’re all looking forward to a great race and we have a strong team – led by Chris Froome – that’s hungry for success.
“I’m confident that Team Sky will be competitive but of course we can take nothing for granted. One thing we can say for certain is that it’s going to be a great contest and a great three weeks of racing for the fans. That is fantastic for the sport of cycling.”
Froome added that the atmosphere and outlook was where it needed to be at this point in time.
“There’s a great spirit in the group and we’re ready to give our best for every kilometre of every day over the three weeks of the Tour.”