Bradley Wiggins is no longer a Team Sky rider and will start the Tour de Yorkshire with his own WIGGINS Continental team. However the British team has selected a solid squad in support of Yorkshireman and sprinter Ben Swift as it targets stage and overall success.
Swift will have the support of Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Nathan Earle, David Lopez, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Salvatore Puccio and Chris Sutton.
Team Sky also has riders in action at the Tour de Romandie with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, while others are preparing for next week’s Giro d’Italia. Richie Porte will lead Team Sky at the Giro d’Italia, with Lopez and Puccio expected to support Australian in Italy after riding the Tour de Yorkshire.
The three-day Tour de Yorkshire (May 1-3) is organised by Tour de France organiser ASO and is the legacy event of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart.
The race offers Team Sky a rare chance to race on British roads, with Swift facing competition in the sprints from Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) who is returning to racing after a virus, Barry Markus (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) and Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka). Also in action will be Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).
Swift struggled in the recent Tour of Basque Country but won a stage and finished second overall in the Coppi e Bartali stage race. Immediately after the Tour de Yorkshire, Swift will travel to the USA for the Tour of California.
The initial stage between Bridlington and Scarborough has been billed as one for the sprinters. However, the sharp drops and climbs on the North Yorkshire Moors and the very exposed coast road between Whitby and the finish on Scarborough's Marine Drive could well bring the GC contenders to the fore. Day two between Selby and York suits Kittel much more. The climbs on the Yorkshire Wolds come too far from the finish to have a significant impact, leaving plenty of time for Giant-Alpecin to chase down any escapees before entering the finishing circuit in York.
Stage three runs in a huge loop from Wakefield through the Pennines to finish in Roundhay Park in Leeds. It is the 'queen' stage of the race and concludes with a series of short, sharp ascents, notably the Cow and Calf climb out of Ilkley and the Chevin above Otley. Following them is an uncategorised rise up to the final intermediate sprint at Arthington, which is likely to be contested by a very small group of the strongest riders, who should be able to rebuff any pursuit over the final 15km.