LONDON (Reuters) - Chris Froome will have the benefit of a formidable Team Sky support crew as the Briton seeks a fourth Tour de France victory next month.
The British outfit confirmed its rider lineup on Thursday for the race, which starts in Dusseldorf on July 1, with specialist climbers Michel Landa and Mikel Nieve from Spain and Colombia’s Sergio Henao all included.
Fellow Briton and trusted sidekick Geraint Thomas, who crashed out of the Giro d’Italia after being brought down by a police motorbike, also makes the list as does Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski, who like Thomas is known for his versatility.
The squad is completed by Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus), Christian Knees (Germany) and Luke Rowe (Britain).
“The Tour de France is a special race and it would just be incredible to win it for a fourth time,” Froome, 32, winner in 2013, 2015 and 2016, said in a Team Sky statement.
“Aiming for that fourth victory has given me a lot of motivation. We’re ready as a team and I can’t wait for the Tour to start now. Honestly, I just love it.
“It’s a feeling that you don’t get from any other race.”
Team Principal Dave Brailsford will be hoping for a smooth ride over the three-week race after a rocky year in which he became embroiled in the so-called “jiffy bag saga”.
Mastermind of Team Sky’s Tour dominance, Brailsford has been under fire for failing to prove what was in a medical package ordered by a team doctor at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.
Team Sky and British Cycling have both been subjects of an investigation by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) into allegations of wrongdoing in the sport. Both denied any doping violations.
Sky’s hopes of winning the Giro were also scuppered when Thomas and Landa were involved in a crash.
“We’re really looking forward to the Tour. Chris is in good shape and he’s ready for it,” Brailsford said.
“We’ve selected a strong and experienced lineup who will support him, and we’ll be looking to use the strength of the team to our advantage.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Gareth Jones