Despite the rip-roaring success of the Yorkshire Grand Départ of last year’s Tour de France, only four British riders were at the start, and only one made it to Paris.
12 months on and the picture looks decidedly different. No fewer than 10 Brits will take to start as the 102nd edition of the Tour de France kicks off in Utrecht on Saturday. That’s a record-equalling figure – the most since 1955.
Five of them – Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Peter Kennaugh, and debutant Luke Rowe – are from Team Sky, whose sole ambition is to put a second yellow jersey on the back of Froome. Stannard and Rowe will shepherd Froome through a Classics-flavoured opening week, while Thomas and Kennaugh will provide support across all terrain, including the mountains later in the race.
Elsewhere, Simon Yates gets another start with OricaGreenEdge and will be joined by his brother Adam, who is making his Tour debut. The two are still only 22 and the Australian team has stressed that the ambition will be to gain experience and go for a breakaway stage win rather than launch a concerted GC bid.
Alex Dowsett (Movistar) is another rider making his Tour de France debut after illness prevented him from taking to the start line last year. He’ll be riding in support of Nairo Quintana and will be of particular help in the team time trial on stage 9.
Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) is no stranger to the Tour and has racked up 25 career stage wins in the race. After being denied the opportunity to add to that tally last year, he’ll be as eager as ever across the relatively few sprint stages on this year's route.
Steve Cummings is the final British rider heading to France in July, riding for MTN-Qhubeka, the first African-registered team to ride the Tour. He has ridden Tours for Sky and BMC and will target the short opening time trial in Utrecht before showing his strength on the flat during the opening week and in the team trial.
In our gallery above, you can see images of all these riders as well as other British Tour icons such as Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, and Chris Boardman.
British riders at the 2015 Tour de France: Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe, Peter Kennaugh (all Sky), Simon Yates, Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep), Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka)