Bradley Wiggins leads a Team Sky selection based primarily around his yellow jersey challenge at this year’s Tour de France. While world champion Mark Cavendish also features, Sky’s nine-man line-up features no fewer than six of the riders who flanked Wiggins during his victorious ride at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné.
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Michael Rogers, Christian Knees and Kanstantin Siutsou were all part of Sky’s dominant showing in the Alps and will be charged with repeating the feat in July.
The only member of the Dauphiné squad to miss out is Danny Pate, as the other two slots in Sky’s Tour line-up are filled by Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel.
While the team selection is a clear indication of where Sky’s priorities lie in July, Team Principal Dave Brailsford is confident that the squad can also support Cavendish in the sprints.
“Our priority this year is the general classification with Bradley but that doesn’t mean we’ll neglect the sprint stages, or Mark’s bid for green jersey,” he said on the team website. “Chris, Mick, and Richie are among our strongest climbers and will all be there to support Bradley in the mountains, but then we’ve got riders like Christian and Kosta who have strong engines on the flats, and versatile riders like Edvald and Bernhard who can support Mark in the sprints.”
After victories at Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné already in 2012, Wiggins lines up as favourite for overall victory at the Tour and he approaches the race with greater confidence than in the past.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I’ll do everything I can to win the Tour de France,” he said. “Hopefully we can do the business for ourselves and our fans, and become the most successful British-based cycling team ever.”
For his part, Cavendish acknowledged that Wiggins’ presence meant that he would not enjoy the same level of outright support as he had done at Highroad. Nonetheless, the Manxman has shown that he is well capable of winning without a full lead-out train when the occasion has arisen this season.
“It's a dream to ride for a team that holds so much British interest and has a chance to win the yellow jersey,” he said. “I know the push for the GC podium will make it more difficult for me to repeat the success I've enjoyed the last few years. But I'll compete and - as always - I'll dedicate myself to making it a successful Tour for Team Sky and, let's hope, for Britain.”
Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen has been Sky’s stand-out performer at the Tour in the team’s history to date, winning two stages in 2011, although he stressed that his primary role this time around will be to support Wiggins.
“If I get the opportunity to go for stage victories myself, I’ll definitely try to take them, but I have a role in the team to fulfil and anything other than that will be a bonus,” he said.
Team Sky for the Tour de France: Bradley Wiggins (GBr), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Mark Cavendish (GBr), Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Chris Froome (GBr), Christian Knees (Ger), Richie Porte (Aus), Michael Rogers (Aus) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr).