Tour of Oman 2014: stage five – five observations

Froome, Team Sky, Preben Van Hecke, fixture congestion...and July

Sky times

The phrase ‘strength in depth’ might have been coined with Sir Dave Brailsford’s team in mind, and with so many quality riders, the selection for the biggest race of the year will be far from a certainty for all but defending champion, Chris Froome. A look at the squads competing in Oman and Andalucía represents nothing more than a selection nightmare for Sir Dave.

After a middling performance in Qatar (pictured), Team Sky have ruled the roost in Oman and ridden an effective race in Andalucia. pic: Bruno Bade/ASO

Ritchie Porte, who leads the team’s efforts in Spain, arguably has the stronger backing, with Wiggins, Thomas, Kennaugh, Boasson Hagen, and Kiryienka among those riding in support. But it is the men picked to protect Froome in Oman – Cataldo, Henao, Lopez, Pate, Siutsou, Swift, and new signing, Nieve, who are getting the job done.

Just nine riders will roll out in Leeds in the famous black jerseys and many among those who don’t will face bitter disappointment. Early signs indicate that a more than two-thirds British squad could be selected on merit. The sight of Froome, Wiggins, Thomas, Stannard, Kennaugh, Rowe, and Swift setting off for Paris via Harrogate would please many. Brailsford, however, famously immune to sentiment, is unlikely to be swayed by patriotism.

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