Five Brits have been named in Team Sky’s Tour de France line-up, with Chris Froome to be supported by Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe as part of the squad’s nine-man line-up for the race, which starts in Utrecht on Saturday July 4.
Newly-cornwed British champion Kennaugh, in-form Tour de Suisse runner-up Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, and Welsh debutant Luke Rowe will all ride in support of 2013 champion Tour Froome.
Irishman Nicolas Roche, not included in a short list accidentally published on the Team Sky website, is also in the squad, but countryman Philip Deignan misses out.
It will be Roche’s seventh consecutive appearance at the race, where he has previously forged a reputation as a strong domestique for the likes of Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador.
Richie Porte, who has not raced since abandoning the Giro d’Italia is also in the squad, bidding to repeat the race-winning partnership he and Froome enjoyed in 2013.
Dutchman Wout Poels is also included, after a strong start to life at Team Sky, including his efforts for Froome at the Dauphine. And the team is completed by Czech ace Leopold Konig, on the back of his sixth place finish at the Giro d’Italia.
Colombian climbing ace Sergio Henao is among the riders to miss out, despite having finished 11th at the Tour de Suisse, and Christian Knees and Danny Pate – also part of Team Sky’s squad in Switzerland – have also failed to make the cut.
Speaking of the team selection, Sir Dave Brailsford said: “The Tour is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in years and we’ve chosen a team of talented riders for the race.
“We’ve studied this year’s route carefully and have selected the riders who we believe will best deliver our race strategy. Inevitably it is always a difficult decision. 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.”
Announcing the squad on Sky Sports News, Brailsford also explained some of the selections in more detail.
He said: “Richie’s in great shape and has recovered well from the Giro. He’s one of the world’s best climbers and I don’t think there is anybody who can do the support job he does for Chris Froome as well as Richie.
“Geraint’s getting closer and closer to leading the team. He’s so good at everything, he’s mounting a challenge to become a serious GC contender. He’s a man for all terrains.
“[Peter Kennaugh] won the British championsips. He rode fantastically well. He’s in great shape and deserves his spot.
“Luke spent his entire pro career with Sky. It’s his first Tour de France, but he was eighth at Paris-Roubaix. On the cobbles he’ll come into his own. He’s a powerhouse on the front.
“[Nicolas Roche] is one of the most experienced guys in pro cycling. He knows how to position himself and the team. He’s there for his experience and he’ll be road captain and call the shots.
“LK is in the team with the final week in mind. He’s ridden three Grand Tours, and finished top ten in all but he had his chance at the Giro and his role in the Tour will be to support Chris Froome.”
And the team leader himself is raring to go, adding: “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.”
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Team Sky for 2015 Tour de France
Chris Froome (GBR)
Richie Porte (AUS)
Geraint Thomas (GBR)
Peter Kennaugh (GBR)
Ian Stannard (GBR)
Luke Rowe (GBR)
Nicolas Roche (IRL)
Leopold Konig (CZE)
Wout Poels (NED)