Sky unveils formidable team for Tour de France
Team Sky has announced its lineup for the 103rd edition of the Tour de France, which kicks off at Mont-Saint-Michel on Saturday July 2nd and concludes on Sunday July 24th in Paris.
Defending champion Chris Froome returns to lead a strong nine-man squad, and will be joined on the start line by Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve, Wout Poels, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas.
Team Sky will be aiming to win a fourth Tour de France, with Froome chasing a hat trick of victories after previous wins in 2013 and 2015.
“The Tour de France will always be the pinnacle of our sport,” said Froome. “I feel in good shape coming into the race this year 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.”
Brailsford expecting exciting event
Speaking about the Tour de France lineup Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said: “Every Tour is different, so that means choosing the team we believe is best equipped to deal with the many different challenges of this race.
“We have selected a talented group of riders with Chris as the leader once again. I know they will do everything they can to help him try to win yellow. We can take a lot of confidence as a team from what we have achieved already this year, but we know how much it takes to win the Tour.
“Of course there are a number of riders in other teams capable of putting in a challenge for overall victory. That’s great news for cycling fans, who can look forward to seeing some really competitive racing. We are as excited as the fans about what’s to come and we’re looking forward to getting started next Saturday”.
The 2016 Team Sky Tour de France lineup in full:
Chris Froome – age 31 – Great Britain
Heading into the 2016 event as a two-time winner and defending champion, Froome will be going all out to secure a third Tour de France victory this July. Fresh from recent overall success at the Criterium du Dauphine, he heads into his 12th career Grand Tour in promising form and backed up by a strong Team Sky lineup. One of the best climbers of his generation, Froome holds explosive power in the mountains which, coupled with his world-renowned time trial ability, makes him an accomplished all-round talent.
Sergio Henao – age 28 – Colombia
A supreme climbing force, Henao has supported winning efforts at Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine already this season, most recently linking up with Chris Froome to great effect. Along with Mikel Landa, Henao is one of two Team Sky riders to make his Tour de France debut this year. With five Grand Tour appearances to his name, the Colombian has shown he can play the super domestique role, as well as having the ability to win big races in his own right.
Vasil Kiryienka – age 34 – Belarus
One of the most loyal, powerful and respected riders in the peloton. The Belarusian is the reigning world time trial champion and will don the rainbow jersey during the Tour’s two tests against the clock. Equally at home setting the tempo on the front of the bunch or up the road on a solo breakaway, ‘Kiry’ was part of the team for Chris Froome’s first Tour success back in 2013. With 15 Grand Tours (and four stage wins) to his name he’s no stranger to success.
Mikel Landa – age 26 – Spain
Adding huge strength to the team’s climbing roster, Landa was forced to depart the Giro d’Italia in May due to illness, but bounced back with a superb attacking performance at the Dauphine. In his first race alongside Chris Froome the pair spearheaded a dynamic, attacking showing in the mountains. Mikel earned his reputation as one of the world’s top Grand Tour riders in 2015 when he won two stages and finished third overall at the Giro. 2016 has already brought a stage win at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, overall victory at Giro del Trentino and now his Tour debut.
Mikel Nieve – age 32 – Spain
Now into his third season with the team, Mikel is no stranger to competing at the sharp end of three-week stage races. With top-10 overall finishes at the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana already under his belt he is one of the best pure climbers around, winning the Mountains Classification at this year’s Giro. The Basque native is one of two riders in the Tour de France line up to have also competed at the Giro this season, pulling off a rousing solo stage victory during the second week. Tackling his second Tour de France in the colours of Team Sky, ‘Frosty’ will be hoping to play a pivotal role in the mountains.
Wout Poels – age 28 – Holland
The Dutchman wrote a new chapter in Team Sky history this year when he took the team’s first Monument Classic victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. With five wins to his name already in 2016, Poels will be hoping to continue that momentum into his fifth Tour de France. He played a key role in Chris Froome’s success 12 months ago, notably stepping up in the final pair of mountain stages to help protect the yellow jersey. Poels adds further strength to the team in the high mountains.
Luke Rowe – age 26 – Great Britain
One of the brightest young British talents in the sport, Rowe has gone from strength to strength since turning pro with Team Sky in 2012. An old head on young shoulders, the Welshman is establishing himself as one of the team’s in-race road captains and, in his Tour debut last season, helped support Chris Froome all the way to victory in Paris. A powerful presence on the flat and in the cross-winds, Rowe’s penchant for the Classics has already seen him place fifth at the Tour of Flanders and eighth at Paris-Roubaix.
Ian Stannard – age 29 – Great Britain
A key part of the team’s success since its inception, Stannard is one of the team’s most hard-working and respected riders. When he isn’t winning tough Belgian one-day Classics in his own right the Brit can be found contributing to stage race success. Having ridden into Paris alongside Chris Froome for both of his Tour victories, Stannard provides an assured presence and selfless shelter in the peloton for his team leader. He is also an adept climber, setting a tough tempo for others to follow on the way into the high mountains.
Geraint Thomas – age 30 – Great Britain
One of the most versatile riders in the sport, Thomas has shown he can excel no matter the terrain. Whether battling over cobbles or climbs, the Welshman is consistently in the mix, often fighting for victory. After securing the biggest win of his career earlier this season at Paris-Nice, ‘G’ now heads into his seventh Tour de France off the back of a superb performance last year. Playing an invaluable supporting role and improving in the mountains with each season, he has already been part of two Tour victories and will be looking to make it three in 2016.