Tour de France: Team Sky name strong squad to support's Chris Froome's bid for yellow
Chris Froome will be supported by a strong Team Sky line-up as he bids to win the Tour de France.
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 20/06/13 5:07pm
The 28-year-old Kenyan-born Briton is the favourite to claim the yellow jersey in Paris and secure the team's second successive win in the race, following Sir Bradley Wiggins's historic victory last year.
Team Sky have named the same squad that helped Froome dominate the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month, with Belarusian workhorse Kanstantsin Siutsou added to make up the nine-man roster.
Also included are Paris-Nice winner Richie Porte, Olympic track champions Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh, 2012 British national road race champion Ian Stannard, climbers Vasil Kiryienka and David Lopez, and all-rounder Edvald Boasson Hagen.
A key absentee from the line-up is reigning champion Wiggins, who was ruled out of contention for selection last month after a knee injury and chest infection sustained at the Giro d'Italia left him behind schedule to be fit.
Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: "Making the final selection of riders has been especially tough this year, but we believe that we have found the right combination for the Tour de France. We have a group of nine riders that are all in great form and ready for the challenge ahead.
"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 have 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 are all looking forward to getting under way."
The 100th edition of the Tour starts in Corsica on June 29 and ends on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 21.
Froome has established himself as heavy favourite after winning the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine already this season.
He has repeatedly defeated Tour rivals such as Alberto Contador in the mountains and appears to be primed to go one better than his runner-up finish last year.
Froome added: "I am 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.
"Ian, Vasil and Kosta [Siutsou] each possess huge engines that you can't go into a Tour without. They will be controlling things on the front for long periods of the race and pacing me once the climbing begins.
"Geraint, David and Pete will then take up the reins. Those guys have really improved their climbing abilities and will be a massive help when the pace really ramps up in the mountains.
"In Richie we simply have one of the strongest climbers in the world. He is another rider who is more than capable of winning a Grand Tour in his own right. Having him in our ranks gives us a number of different options to play.
"We are ready, excited and can't wait to get going."