Team Sky's Tour de France squad takes shape at Criterium du Dauphine

Directeur sportif Nicolas Portal runs through options to support Froome

White jerseys,white bikes, and now the likely possibility of sparkly new white offices. But while Team Sky work on their attire and new headquarters, they also face the much more important task of selecting their final nine-rider line-up for the Tour de France.

At present, the British WorldTour team has a long list of around 13 riders but in the coming weeks the team management will narrow the group down to nine - eight of whom will ride in support of Chris Froome as he embarks on the challenge of winning his fourth title and his third in three years.

The main selection challenges centre around the fitness of Wout Poels - who is returning from a long-term knee injury, the future of Mikel Landa who has made murmurs that he would prefer to ride the Vuelta a Espana, and whether the team need another domestique for the flat stages.

Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Sergio Henao, Luke Rowe and of course Froome look secure of places, while Michal Kwiatkowski has an excellent chance of riding the Tour de France after a strong spring and spending time with Froome at altitude. The frailty that the Pole showed twelve months ago looks to be a thing of the past. Also in the mix are Mikel Nieve, Peter Kennaugh, who needs a solid ride at the Criterium du Dauphine, Christian Knees, who has found his Tour form from 2012, and Vasil Kiryienka, who is recovering from the Giro d'Italia.

"It's always a bit complicated but it's the same for other teams. We've a bunch of around 13 names but it's hard for us to make a selection because the quality is so high," Directeur sportif Nicolas Portal told Cyclingnews at the Criterium du Dauphine.

"They know that some of them are going to be left disappointed but it's the same every year. Most of the guys who were on the Tour team last year, if they're healthy and in good shape then that's another star next to their name but you can never rule out someone like Knees who has been really good in the last few months. We just need to wait."

Portal isn't the only one who has been impressed with Knees. The German may be in the latter years of his career but it is often overlooked how important he was in Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France win in 2012. According to sources in the team, he's back to, or very close to, that level once more. Should Team Sky decide on taking another experienced rider, and if Kiryienka is still struggling from the Giro, then the German could be in line for a place at the Tour.

One thing is for certain, Team Sky like to be consistent. In the last three editions of the Tour they have selected 17 riders and should Poels prove his fitness at next week's Route du Sud, there's every chance that the team could go with the same nine from 2015.

"In the Dauphine we'll learn a lot more detail from our riders and how they ride together. We just need to wait a bit. We don't quite know where Wout is but he's been training really well over the last few weeks. This is a process for him, but at the moment it looks like he could make it, and we're all confident. He's not raced for a while but it looks like he will race Route de Sud."

Thomas and Landa

Poels will line-up alongside Thomas in France. The Welshman is over his Giro d'Italia crash and has trained well over the last few weeks. According to the team, he is highly motivated for the Tour de France and could even be the team's plan B for the overall classification.

Landa's place within the team is slightly more complex. There is no doubting the Spaniard's talent but there are question marks about his commitment. After the Giro – in which he saved Team Sky with a stage win and the mountains jersey - he stated that he would prefer to ride the Vuelta for GC and that Team Sky might make him ride the Tour de France.

That approach, coupled with the fact that he is out of contract and linked to several other teams, could be taken into consideration. Team Sky will want eight riders fully committed to Froome and will be unwilling to take any passengers.

However, for now, Portal is confident that Landa has a place.

"Landa has been really good in the Giro and with three weeks of rest he could easily make the Tour de France team. It's not 100 per cent but there's a big chance he can do it."

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