Defending champion Chris Froome will make his challenge for a third Tour de France title in four years with the support of a strong, climb minded Team Sky line-up.
Froome will be joined on the starting line at Mont St-Michel on July 2 by British riders Luke Rowe, Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard, Team Sky confirmed on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old Froome won the Tour last year and in 2013, while British-based Team Sky also triumphed in 2012 when Bradley Wiggins took the title.
With Astana and Movistar providing tough competition, Froome will enjoy top class support on the crucial mountain stages.
With the proven climb ability of Spanish duo Mikel Landa and Mikel Nieve, Colombia’s Sergio Henao and Dutchman Wout Poels, Froome is unlikely to find himself isolated in either the Pyrenees or the Alps.
Belarusian time-trial specialist Vasil Kiriyenka has been picked for his all-round ability and to lead the drive along the flat sections.
Froome will go into the Tour in fine form after winning his third Criterium du Dauphine and he can’t wait to get started.
“The Tour de France will always be the pinnacle of oursport,” Froome said.
“I feel in good shape coming into the race and am fortunate to have a strong team around me – both on and off the bike.
“Every rider obviously starts every new Tour equal and what has gone before counts for nothing. This year I am hungrier than ever for success.
“There is not a trace of complacency in the team. We know how hard this race will be and how much we will have to give if we want to win it again. But we have trained hard.
“We’re ready for the challenge and can’t wait to get back racing in front of the millions of people in France who make the race so special.”
Team Principal Dave Brailsford believes Froome can win again and he told Sky Sports News: “Froome has been here before and he knows how to deal with this experience.
“He’s confident, ready to go and is very hungry and wants to win.
“I’m absolutely confident this team will pull together and give everything to win this race. They will be completely together as a unit and there will be no squabbles.
“Their feedback will be fantastic and they will be very blunt with each other. In terms of support for Chris, they will optimise his chances of winning.” – Agence France-Presse