Three British riders have been named by Team Sky in the squad that will support Chris Froome in his bid to win the 2013 Tour de France.
National champion, Ian Stannard, Welshman, Geraint Thomas, and 24-year-old, Peter Kennaugh, from the Isle of Man, will ride for the Kenyan-born Brit at the hundredth edition of La Grande Boucle.
The only British team in cycling’s elite WorldTour, and which won cycling’s biggest race last year with Sir Bradley Wiggins, has one of the strongest squads in the race.
Team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, has selected the squad that successfully contested the Critérium du Dauphiné, with the addition of Konstantin Siutsou.
Brailsford said he had faced a tough decision in selecting the nine-man squad, but had been guided by the form of his riders.
Team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, has selected the squad that successfully contested the Critérium du Dauphiné, with the addition of Konstantin Siutsou
He paid tribute to Froome’s early-season campaign – one that has brought him victory in the Tour of Oman, the Criterium International, the Tour of Romandie, and the Criterium du Dauphine – and praised the “eight quality riders” who will support him.
“They will add the climbing ability and the engines to provide the perfect support for Chris, especially in the crucial mountain stages.
“We’ve seen what this group are capable of at the Dauphine and all have raced with Chris successfully at some stage this year.
“We have got a very strong squad for the Tour and we’re all looking forward to getting underway,” he said.
Richie Porte won the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race in March and would perhaps be team leader in any other squad. The 28-year-old Tasmanian finished second to Froome at the Criterium du Dauphine and second to Columbian, Nairo Quintana, at the Tour of the Basque Country.
Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen fought hard to make an impression for Team Sky on the spring Classics but have found greater success in this season’s stage races.
Norweigian champion, Boasson Hagen, has won the Tour of Norway and a stage of the Critierum du Dauphine, while Thomas won stage two of the season-opening Tour Down Under and wore the leader’s ochre jersey for four days.
Stannard was another member of the British team’s Classics squad and distinguished himself with a superb ride at Milan-San Remo, cresting and descending the Pogio in a two-man breakaway with Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) before finishing sixth.
Vasil Kiryienka’s machine-like duty for Team Sky has made him one of the British team’s key off-season signings
Kennaugh’s contribution to Froome’s victory in the Criterium du Dauphine impressed many. His selection for the Tour, alongside fellow Olympic team pursuit champion, Thomas, is a huge vote of confidence from Brailsford.
Vasil Kiryienka’s machine-like duty for Team Sky has made him one of the British team’s key off-season signings. The Belarusian ‘diesel’ has accompanied Froome on each of his victories this season and supported Porte in his Paris-Nice triumph and runner-up finish in the Basque Country.
Spaniard, David Lopez, rode alongside Froome at the Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine and, like Kiryienka, is a closed-season signing Brailsford can be proud of.
Siutsou will be delighted to recive a second chance at riding on a Tour-winning team. The Belarusian crashed in the first week of last year’s race after doing stirling service for Wiggins in the early season.
Froome praised the squad on whom he will rely for a realistic opportunity to bag the biggest win of his career.
He said: “I’m delighted with the balance in this team and every one of these riders is going to play a pivotal role once the racing begins.
“Most of us were at the Criterium du Dauphine and I was hugely impressed there with the way the team came together in control of the leader’s jersey. It gave me huge faith and I could not be happier with the selection.”
Froome paid Porte a significant complement by describing him as ‘more than capable’of winning a Grand Tour in his own right
Froome highlighted the “engines” of Stannard, Siutsou and Kiryienka, and earmarked them for duties at the head of the bunch during the early part of each stage.
“Geraint, David and Pete will then take up the reins,” he continued. “Those guys have really improved their climbing abilities and will be a massive help when the pace really ramps up in the mountains.
Froome said Porte was one of the world’s strongest climbers and paid him a significant complement by describing him as “more than capable” of winning a Grand Tour in his own right.
“Having him in our ranks gives us a number of different options to play. The same applies with Edvald – he is flying after his victories in Norway and the Dauphine, and he has already proved he can win stages at the Tour,” Froome said.
“We’re ready, excited and can’t wait to get going.”
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Tour de France 2013 – Team Sky
Edvald Bosson Hagen