Bradley Wiggins will lead Team Sky in the 2012 Tour de France with overall victory and the goal of making his team the most successful ever British-based team.
The Londoner, who has already this year become the first rider ever to win Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné in a single season, said he was proud to be part of such a strong squad.
World road race champion, Mark Cavendish, three-time world time trial champion, Mick Rogers, and Chris Froome, runner up in last year’s Vuelta a Espana, are among those who will ride in support of Wiggins.
Wiggins said: “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I’ll do everything I can to win the Tour de France.
“Hopefully we can do the business for ourselves and our fans, and become the most successful British-based cycling team ever.”
Two-time Tour de France stage winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Richie Porte, winner of this year’s Volta ao Algarve, are among an impressive supporting cast.
In April, Sky’s team principle, Dave Brailsford, told RoadCyclingUK the team’s “engine room” would be critical to the team’s Tour ambitions.
Today, he named Bernhard Eisel, Christian Knees, and Kanstantsin Siutsou, among his selection for the biggest race in the team’s short history.
Brailsford said choosing the nine riders for the Tour had been a tough challenge, but backed his squad as a balanced team that could cater for any eventuality.
“Our priority this year is the General Classification with Bradley but that doesn’t mean we’ll neglect the sprint stages, or Mark’s bid for green jersey,” he said.
Brailsford identified Froome, Porte, and Rogers as among the team’s strongest climbers, and Knees and Siutsou as riders with “strong engines” for flat stages.
The versatility of riders like Boasson Hagen and Eisel would enable them to support Cavendish in sprint finishes, he added.
“This squad is truly world class with a proven pedigree of success. They have trained, raced and lived together since the start of the season and that has moulded them into a well-oiled, focused and close-knit team.
“They are all full of confidence after their recent run of results and it’s going to be exciting to see how the race transpires.”
Team Sky will face the difficult challenge of supporting Wiggins in his quest for overall victory, and Cavendish’s goal of stage wins and a second consecutive triumph in the green jersey points competition.
The world road race champion pledged to play his part in supporting Wiggins’ ambitions, as well as hunting for stage victories.
“It’s a dream to ride for a team that holds so much British interest and has a chance to win the yellow jersey.
“I know the push for the GC podium will make it more difficult for me to repeat the success I’ve enjoyed the last few years. But I’ll compete and – as always – I’ll dedicate myself to making it a successful Tour for Team Sky and, let’s hope, for Britain,” he said.
Cavendish has already proved his willingness to play a team role, riding strongly in support of Wiggins at the Tour de Romandie earlier this year, as well as notching up seven sprint victories, including three at the Giro d’Italia, and overall victory at the recent Ster ZLM Tour.
Few teams have the strength in depth to use a rider as talented as Edvald Boasson Hagen in a supporting role.
Boasson Hagen, who won stages six and 17 of last year’s Tour, said his first duty would be to support Wiggins and Cavendish.
“Bradley is a fantastic leader and we all have faith in him to produce a really strong ride.
“It’s the same for Cav, he’s the best sprinter in the world and my role will be helping them both out as much as I can.
“If I get the opportunity to go for stage victories myself, I’ll definitely try to take them, but I have a role in the team to fulfil and anything other than that will be a bonus,” he said.
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Team Sky squad – 2012 Tour de France
Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – team leader
Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR)
Mark Cavendish (GBR)
Bernhard Eisel (AUS)
Chris Froome (GBR)
Christian Knees (GER)
Richie Porte (AUS)
Michael Rogers (AUS)
Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR)