Team Sky has announced its nine-man line-up for the 101st edition of the Tour de France, which starts with the Grand Départ in Yorkshire on Saturday 5 July.
Tour de France champion Chris Froome will, as we all knew already knew, lead the nine-man team and will be joined by: Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas, Mikel Nieve, Bernhard Eisel, Vasil Kiryienka, David López, Danny Pate and Xabier Zandio.There is no place for Sir Bradley Wiggins, who only yesterday confirmed he would not be taking part in the race, yet conceded the Team Sky TdF squad was 'incredible'.
Chris Froome flanked by the Team Sky members who will endeavour to ensure he successfully defends the maillot jaune in July. From left to right: David López , Vasil Kiryienka, Danny Pate, Geraint Thomas, Bernhard Eisel, Richie Porte, Xabier Zandio and Mikel Nieve.
The Team Sky squad for the 2014 Tour de France is as follows:
Chris Froome Great Britain – age 29
Chris Froome heads into the Tour de France as 2013 champion after becoming the second consecutive Team Sky rider to win cycling’s biggest prize following Sir Bradley Wiggins’ triumph in 2012. This season Chris has won the Tour of Oman and Romandie, as well as holding the yellow jersey for six of the eight stages at the Critérium du Dauphine earlier this month. He will be looking to combine his climbing and time-trial abilities to secure his second Tour de France title.
Richie Porte Australia – age 29
Regarded as one of the very best riders in the sport, Richie will be Chris Froome’s main support rider – or super domestique – when the race hits the mountains. A champion in his own right, having won prestigious races such as Paris-Nice and the Volta ao Algarve, Porte’s job will be to set a fast pace for Froome on the climbs before thrusting his leader towards the summit.
Geraint Thomas MBE Great Britain – age 28
Geraint was the youngest rider in the Tour the last time the race visited British shores in 2007, and this will be his fifth Tour de France appearance. The Welsh rider wore the white jersey, for best young rider, in 2010 and 2011, and was a key part of the successful 2013 team. Thomas’s all-round abilities make him a great team-mate for Chris Froome on the flat, cobbled and mountain stages.
Mikel Nieve Spain – age 30
Mikel joined Team Sky at the start of the 2014 season and has immediately made his mark by playing a key role in Chris Froome’s victories in Oman and Romandie. Nieve is a super-strong climbing domestique and is another of Team Sky’s main players in the mountains. He has been in fine form this season and recently claimed a high-profile final stage win at the Dauphine earlier this month.
Bernhard Eisel Austria – age 33
Bernie is one of the most experienced riders on the Team Sky roster and has ridden 15 Grand Tours during his 14 seasons as a professional. The most memorable of those was Team Sky’s first Tour de France victory in 2012, and this time around he will be making sure Froome is well protected and positioned during the flat and cobbled sections of the race.
Vasil Kiryienka Belarus – age 32
The Belarusian has gained widespread recognition for his tireless stints on the front of the peloton and is a key asset to the team on the climbs. His role will be to keep breakaways in check as well as helping to set the pace when the road ramps upwards.
David López Spain – age 33
López’s wealth of experience and relaxed demeanour made him an instant hit when he joined Team Sky in 2013. He has since proved himself to be a loyal climbing domestique, having played a pivotal role in last season’s Tour de France win. David has ridden in support of Chris Froome in every race he has entered this season.
Danny Pate USA – age 35
Danny is one of the hardest-working riders in the peloton and that commitment has been rewarded with his first Tour de France ride in Team Sky colours. Like Kiryienka, Pate will drive the pace of the peloton on the flatter stages of the race whilst also making sure Froome is correctly positioned heading into each of the key climbs.
Xabier Zandio Spain – age 37
One of the strongest and most reliable domestiques in cycling, Zandio has devoted a career to helping his team-mates achieve success. With 13 years as a pro already in his legs, the Spaniard is an experienced hand, especially in stage races, and is most at home setting the pace on the mid-sections of significant climbs.
Confirming the final selection for the Tour de France team, Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said:
"Team Sky returns to the Tour de France with the reigning champion and we are looking to win the yellow jersey for the third time in three years and a second consecutive time for Chris Froome. Defending champion Chris Froome is an exceptional talent, a brilliant stage racer, and he’ll lead the team.
"We know how hard it is to win this race and that it takes a totally focused and carefully constructed team, with the right blend of riders, to give us the best chance of victory. Each rider has been selected to play a specific role which will involve total sacrifice and commitment to the team’s ambition of reaching the Champs Élysées in yellow.
"In tackling the difficult challenge of selecting this team, we have stuck to a performance-first philosophy which has bought us considerable success, firstly at British Cycling and then with Team Sky, for more than a decade. Given the number of talented riders in Team Sky this approach has inevitably lead to some very tough decisions – however it’s crucial to remain totally focused on the desired outcome and we're racing to win.
"It has been a golden decade for cycling. Bradley Wiggins lies at the heart of a lot of that success, and although he has not been selected for this race he is still a key member of Team Sky and a great champion.
"The last time the Tour came to Britain it helped sow the seeds for what eventually became Team Sky. Everyone should be immensely proud of how far we've come and we can’t wait to ride in front of the UK fans. I believe that this will mark the moment when Britain truly becomes a cycling nation."
Chris Froome, Team Sky’s leader and 2013 Tour de France champion, said: "Everyone in the team is hugely excited about the Tour de France starting in the UK and racing in front of home fans as defending champion will be an incredible honour.
"We did a recce of the Yorkshire stages a few weeks ago and the excitement was already starting to build and the support that we have received has been fantastic. I’ll never forget the atmosphere on the roads during the London Olympics and to receive similar support at the Tour would be amazing. There’s no greater motivation for us than riding in front of our UK fans.
"We have a really strong team going into the race, full of experience and ability, and we’ve spent a lot of time together this year which is very important. We’re ready to get started and can’t wait to get to Yorkshire."
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