Chris Froome is out of the Tour de France. The Team Sky defending TdF champion has withdrawn after multiple crashes during horrendous weather conditions on Stage 5, 152.5km Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. On his third fall of the day, still short of the much feared first cobbled sections, the clearly brutalised Froome, already with braced wrists from a fall on Stage 4, could clearly take no more; climbing in tears into the team car. Although it wasn’t the cobbles that finished his race directly, the sheer pace in wet conditions set by the teams to reach them in quick order clearly played a part. Following Mark Cavedish’s failure to start Stage 2 after dislocating his shoulder in a fall on day 1, there now remains only two British riders in the 2014 Tour de France: Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates of ORICA-GreenEDGE.
With David Millar now dropped from Garmin-Sharp and Alex Dowsett a substitute rider for Movistar, this year’s British contingent of riders for the Tour de France is a mere four…
Chris Froome - Reigning Tour de France champion and Team Sky’s not-at-all-secret weapon, Froome continues to demonstrate why he is arguably the best stage race rider in the world. Turning professional in 2007 when he joined Team Konica Minolta, Froome really came into the spotlight at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana just a year after moving to Team Sky. The historic one-two with Bradley Wiggins at the 2012 Tour de France and subsequent bronze for the Time Trial the London Olympics consolidated his reputation as one of the best riders of his generation.
Follow Chris Froome on Twitter @chrisfroome
Geraint Thomas - With Team Sky also boasting Geraint Thomas they account for 50% of the Brits at this year’s Tour de France. A member of British Cycling’s Olympic Academy, Thomas won the Junior Paris–Roubaix in 2004 continuing to make headway through to his victory at the British National Road Race Championships in 2010. After gold medal success at London 2012, Thomas was an integral part of Team Sky’s second Tour de France victory and will act as Froome’s wingman for this year’s Tour de France. Our money’s on him as a future Grand Tour winner too.
Follow Geraint Thomas on Twitter @GeraintThomas86
Mark Cavendish - The Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish is the sprinter’s sprinter and Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s one to watch. Cavendish already has 25 Tour de France stage wins to his name, putting him in third position; although he might claim enough wins in the 2014 TdF to nudge France’s Bernard Hinault off of the second spot (28 wins) he still has a way to go to reach the dizzying heights of Eddy Merckx with 34 victories. Before a pedal has even been cranked in anger at the Tour de France Cavendish has already clocked up over 7,000km of competitive cycling this year.
Follow Mark Cavendish on Twitter @markcavendish
Simon Yates - Twin brother of Adam Yates, also of ORICA-GreenEDGE, Simon’s inclusion in the 2014 Tour de France line-up was something of a surprise; not yet his time to shine we think, but this will give him some invaluable Grand Tour experience miles. Not yet 22 years old Yates took gold in the Points Race at the 2013 Track World Championships and has more than proven his worth on the road with solid work at the Tour de l’Avenir and a win over both Wiggins and Nairo Quintana on stage six of the Tour of Britain. Plenty of good years ahead of him…
Follow Simon Yates on Twitter @SimonYatess
Team Sky has announced its nine-man line-up for the 101st edition of the Tour de France, which starts with the Grand Départ in Yorkshire on Saturday July 5. Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome will lead the nine-man team and will be joined by: Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas, Mikel Nieve, Bernhard Eisel, Vasil Kiryienka, David López, Danny Pate and Xabier Zandio.
Confirming the final selection for the Tour de France team, Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford said: ‘Team Sky returns to the Tour de France with the reigning champion and we are looking to win the yellow jersey for the third time in three years and a second consecutive time for Chris Froome. Defending champion Chris Froome is an exceptional talent, a brilliant stage racer, and he’ll lead the team…. We know how hard it is to win this race and that it takes a totally focused and carefully constructed team, with the right blend of riders, to give us the best chance of victory. Each rider has been selected to play a specific role which will involve total sacrifice and commitment to the team’s ambition of reaching the Champs Élysées in yellow.’
Chris Froome, Team Sky leader and 2013 Tour de France champion, adds: ‘Everyone in the team is hugely excited about the Tour de France starting in the UK and racing in front of home fans as defending champion will be an incredible honour. We did a recce of the Yorkshire stages a few weeks ago and the excitement was already starting to build and the support that we have received has been fantastic.’
This weekend sees the start of the 2014 UCI World Tour with the traditional season-opener the Santos Tour Down Under, which begins on Sunday, January 19 with the 50km People’s Choice Classic. The six main stages then continue starting with the 135km leg from Nuriootpa to Angaston and ending on Sunday, January 16 with the new Adelaide city circuit of 18 laps over 85.5km.
Team Sky are, of course, fielding a strong team with home-fan favourite Richie Porte backed by Philip Deignan, Bernard Eisel, Christopher Sutton and GB’s Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas. Despite being far from the somewhat cooler Welsh climate, Thomas – making his fourth appearance at the Tour Down Under – appears more than ready for the work ahead, saying, ‘I love being in Oz. It’s a great place to come. The lifestyle here is good. It’s the sort of place you get up in the morning and go for a run before you go to work. It’s an active, healthy place to be… Obviously the weather is great, if not a touch hot at the moment. The roads for riding and training around Adelaide are really good, especially for this time of year. And then the Tour Down Under itself is a good hard race to kick-start the season.’
Further details on the Santos Tour Down Under at tourdownunder.com.au
Team Sky have announced the seven-man squad that will lead the charge for the 2014 season opener, the Tour Down Under, which runs January 19-26. Geraint Thomas will lead the team alongside Richie Porte, former Tour Down Under stage winner Chris Sutton, Bernhard Eisel, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard and making his Sky debut Philip Deignan. The Australian race has invariably proven a success for Team Sky, which has seen them finishing on the overall podium on three of the last four occasions. The event will form part of the team’s build up for the prestigious Spring Classics once again, with success in Australia a key stepping stone for the riders.
Commenting on the team’s chances, Richie Porte commented: ‘I want to go to (the) Tour Down Under and perform. As an Aussie it’s the race to win… It used to be a sprinter’s race but now there are some good climbs in there like Corkscrew and Willunga. I’ve spent a bit of time in Adelaide so I know the climbs pretty well. I think if I’m in good form and we have a strong team there – if not me then through Geraint Thomas – we also have a really good chance. He was brilliant there last season so it should be an interesting race.’
Further details on the Tour Down Under at tourdownunder.com.au
22 teams, 219 riders, 21 stages and 3,404km of road, hill and mountain. Wiggins may be missing this year, but the British riders of the Tour de France 2013 are more than worth getting to know better. With 22 TdF appearances between them, an impressive amount of Giro and Vuelta experience plus an Olympic medal or two, the six Brits tackling the historic 100th edition of the Tour will help keep patriotic hearts in the mouth…
DoB: May 20, 1985
Team: Team Sky
TdF Appearances: 2008 and 2012
Top TdF Placing: 2nd in 2012
TdF Stage Wins: 1
Team Website: teamsky.com
Personal Website: chris-froome.com
Follow on Twitter: @chrisfroome
Need to Know: Snapping at the heels of Wiggins last year and likely only team tactics that held him back. Unencumbered and leading Team Sky for 2013, it’s going to be interesting to see what he can pull out of the bag, especially after such an impressive build to the TdF with wins including the Tour of Oman and the Critérium du Dauphiné.
DoB: May 25, 1986
Team: Team Sky
TdF Appearances: 2007, 2010 and 2011
Top TdF Placing: 31st in 2011
TdF Stage Wins: None
Team Website: teamsky.com
Personal Website: geraintthomas.com
Follow on Twitter: @geraintthomas86
Need to Know: Thomas has his full attention back on the road following Olympic glory on the track in the Team Pursuit in 2012. Despite often being tagged a Time Trial specialist, he is rapidly proving himself a dependable all-rounder and he’s already proved his climbing legs during the 2011 TdF. Thomas will be lending strong support to Froome on this one.
DoB: June 15, 1989
Team: Team Sky
TdF appearances: 0
Top TdF Placing: NA
Stage Wins: NA
Team Website: teamsky.com
Personal Website: peterkennaugh.com
Follow on Twitter: @petekennaugh
Need to Know: Another rider who focused much of 2012 on the track, bagging Gold as part of GB Team Pursuit, but making his TdF debut. Despite his lack of experience through France, Kennaugh brings experience of the Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia and with four podium positions in his last four National Championships he is a massively well respected member of Team Sky. At just 24, Kennaugh is the youngest Brit taking on the TdF this year.
DoB: May 25, 1987
Team: Team Sky
TdF Appearances: 0
Top TdF Placing: NA
Stage wins: NA
Team Website: teamsky.com
Personal Website: ianstannard.com
Follow on Twitter: @istannard
Need to Know: The fourth Brit riding for Sky, like Kennaugh Stannard is making his Tour de France debut but as the 2012 British Road Race Champion and his reputation as a solid domestique he will be bringing plenty to the mix. Both his TT skills and climbing ability are improving year on year, making Stannard a cliché-making ‘one to watch’.
DoB: May 21, 1985
Team: Omega Pharma-Quick Step
TdF Appearances: 2007 (withdrawn), 2008 (withdrawn), 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012
Top TdF Placing: 130th in 2011
Stage wins: 23
Team Website: omegapharma-quickstep.com
Personal Website: markcavendish.co.uk
Follow on Twitter: @markcavendish
Need to Know: With six TdF appearances to his name, despite the 2007/8 withdrawals, Cav has an impressive number of stage wins to his name and with excellent looking form going into the 2013 Tour he will surely add to them to close in on the legendary Eddy Merckx’s tally of 34. Clearly frustrated at Sky, he now effectively has a team assembled around him hell-bent on making his ambitions come to fruition. It’s hard to imagine the Champs-Elysees without Cavendish launching himself hell for leather on the final day…
DoB: January 4, 1977
Team: Team Garmin-Sharp
TdF Appearances: 2000, 2001 (withdrawn), 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Top TdF Placing: 59th in 2006 (2003’s 55th place was achieved doping)
Stage wins: 3
Team Website: slipstreamsports.com
Personal Website: NA
Follow on Twitter: @millarmind
Need to Know: At 36 Millar is the oldest Brit in this year’s Tour, but just look at the experience he brings – 11 TdF appearances and one of the very few British riders (and youngest of any nationality) to have worn the leader’s maillot jaune. A dark past – despite plenty of penance – make Millar a controversial figure but his time trialing skills and general work ethic always make him worth watching.
Want to know how the Tour de France began? Read the Cyclo feature Origins of the Tour de France here.
In the mood for more TdF? Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition book review here.
The route for the 2013 Wiggle Etape Cymru, widely regarded as the toughest closed road sportive in the UK, has been unveiled by Team Sky rider and event ambassador Geraint Thomas. Starting and finishing at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse, Wrexham, North Wales, the 88mile route takes in both fantastic views of the Vale of LLangollen and the infamous Horseshoe Pass, where riders will tackle the 6.1km timed climb with 317m of ascent and a gradient that reaches 20% on the bends; all of which makes this sportive something of a beauty and a beast.
Plenty of fuel on the way though, with 6 feed stations dishing up an unusual combination of Welsh rarebit, salted potatoes, bananas and PowerBar drinks and gels. Commenting on the nutritional side of things Thomas says, ‘It’s important to note where the feed zones are. A bit of Welsh rarebit always goes down nicely so make the most of that… It’s a challenging route, but it’s a great chance to get out and enjoy the roads. It’s not every day the roads are closed off and members of the public get to ride on them. As cyclists we take it for granted.’
The Wiggle Etape Cymru takes place on Sunday September 8 and participants will be encouraged to fundraise for the Official National Charity Partner Macmillan Cancer Support. Full route details and entry at humanrace.co.uk
Young Dutch rider Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling) has taken the overall win at the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under, with Lotto-Belisol’s André Greipel claiming victory on the final stage. Having already won Stage 3 – his first ever UCIWorld Tour stage win – 23-year-old Slagter did enough through the final 90km stage through the streets of Adelaide to nail the general classification in 18hours, 28minutes and 32seconds; Movistar’s Javier Moreno took the second podium place (+17 seconds) and Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas took third on +25seconds.
Having dropped potentially from contention on the penultimate stage, Thomas fought hard across Sunday’s closing leg, aided by his teammates, to ensure a podium place. Speaking after the event the Welshman was quick to praise the squad: ‘We didn’t want to just give up and throw it away,” he said. “We knew there was one more day. Traditionally no one really bothers on a final stage like this but we were up for it. The boys rode unbelievable and did [the hard work] for me. The lead-out for the sprint was amazing. I’m not the best sprinter in the world and especially when I’m tired I don’t have that much of a kick. I just followed Edvald and nabbed the points on the line.’