Team Sky have unveiled their team for the Tour de France with Chris Froome leading the team’s attempt at their fifth and his fourth win.
Welshman Geraint Thomas is Froome’s co-captain and a potential plan B for the General Classification if Froome crashes out.
Thomas recently abandoned his own attempt at a Grand Tour win, when he crashed on stage nine of the Giro d’Italia this May. He withdrew to get fit and concentrate on the Tour.
This year’s route is unfavourable to Froome with only three high mountain stages and reduced time trial kilometres.
However, last year Froome changed tactics and actually won the race by making the most time on a crosswinds stage, a daring attack on a descent and the final time trial stage.
Basque rider Mikel Landa, a key mountain lieutenant to Froome, crashed with Thomas in the Giro yet finished the race with the mountains jersey and a stage win and has already demonstrated his skill helping Froome to the GC last year.
Colombian Sergio Henao and Spaniard Mikel Nieve were also key in the 2016 race and have shown good form in training. They will be key in the mountains.
Polish rider and the winner of this year’s Milan-San Remo Michal Kwiatkowski is a versatile rider who can cope on the flat and the mountains. He has trained with Froome all summer.
Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe have helped to keep Froome out of trouble on flat stages in past Tours but Stannard suffered with a virus and had to leave the Dauphine early.
Despite being a key rider in Sky’s four Tour de France victory’s he is not fit enough to ride the Tour. Rowe led the team through the spring cobbled classics and backed off to be ready for the July appointment.
Woet Poels has only ridden one race since February after suffering an injury so was left out, despite being a key domestique in Froome’s 2016 Tour victory.
German Christian Knees, who has been training with Froome near Sestriere will be glad to be rewarded with a tour place as the race starts in his home country with this year’s Grand Depart in Dusseldorf.
Alongside Belarusian Vasil Kiryienka, the pair could help keep Froome safe on the flat stages and help out in the early mountain stages.
(c) Sky News 2017: Froome to lead Team Sky in Tour de France challenge