GERAINT Thomas is among three Brits tasked with aiding Chris Froome’s bid to succeed Sir Bradley Wiggins as Tour de France champion, Team Sky has announced.
Froome, the 2012 runner-up behind Wiggins, leads Team Sky in the 100th Tour, which begins in Corsica on Saturday week, with the defending champion absent with a knee injury.
Olympic team pursuit champions and former Newton resident Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh and British champion Ian Stannard are in the Team Sky squad. Kennaugh and Stannard will make their Tour debuts.
Australia’s Richie Porte, Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, Belarus duo Vasil Kiryienka and Kanstantsin Siutsou and David Lopez of Spain complete the team.
Froome, who has won four of the five races he has entered this season including traditional Tour warm-up the Criterium du Dauphine, Porte, Boasson Hagen and Siutsou were in Wiggins’ Tour-winning squad in 2012.
Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “Making the final selection of riders has been especially tough this year but we believe that we’ve found the right combination for the Tour de France.
“The Tour de France has been the main goal for Chris this season and he goes into the race in great shape. With four stage-race wins this year Chris has not only grown as a rider but also importantly as a leader.
“Around him are eight quality riders who have each earned their place in the team. 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 under way.”
Froome added: “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.
“We’re ready, excited and can’t wait to get going.”