(Reuters) - Grand Tour winners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have been named in the Team Sky squad for the Tour of Britain as part of a strong six-rider lineup that also includes Wout Poels, Vasil Kiryienka, Ian Stannard and Lukasz Wisniowski.
Tour de France winner Thomas and defending champion Froome skipped the ongoing Vuelta a Espana — the final Grand Tour of the season — to race at the Tour of Britain, which starts on Sunday.
Four-time Tour de France winner Froome is set to race in the Tour of Britain for first time since 2009, when the first stage begins at Pembrey Country Park in Wales.
"It's been a long time since I've raced the Tour of Britain... ," the Briton told Team Sky's website here
“I’m really looking forward to riding. I always remember there being a great atmosphere at the Tour of Britain and the race has only got bigger over the years.”
Double Olympic gold winner and three-time world track champion Thomas, the first Welshman to win the Tour de France, is relishing the prospect of racing in his home country.
“As soon as I’d finished the Tour, I knew I wanted to ride the Tour of Britain and race on home roads. It starts in Wales which will be special, and then I get to go and race across the whole of the UK. I can’t wait,” Thomas said.
Stannard, 31, finished third overall in the 2008 Tour of Britain, seventh in 2013, and won the third stage in last year’s race, while Wisniowski will appear in the event for a second time.
Belarusian national time trial champion Kiryienka returns to the Tour of Britain after securing a third-placed finish in the time trial last year and is keen to use the Tour to prepare for the World Championships in September.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien