Tour de France 2017: Brits to look out for
Cycling Road

Tour de France 2017: Brits to look out for

29 June 2017 / 09:44

Starting on Saturday, the next three weeks will determine whether Chris Froome makes history and becomes the fifth most successful rider in Tour de France.

The Team Sky man has won the event for the last two years, and is going for a hat-trick that would see his overall tally of wins total four and put him just one behind Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, the greats of cycling.

He currently stands level with America’s Greg LeMond on three Tour wins, and faces as tough a task as ever if he is to win a fourth.

This year’s route sees the riders take in 3,540km over the traditional 21 stages, with two rest days.

Starting in Dusseldorf, Germany, and finishing, as ever, on the Champs Elysee, the Tour de France is quite rightly considered one of the toughest events in sport.

This year there will be nine British riders taking to the start line, with two alongside Froome in the Team Sky roster, and another three riding for South African outfit Team Dimension Data.

So let’s take a look at the British prospects and what we can expect from them over the next three weeks:

Chris Froome

ChrisFroomeTdF3200SB16

Age: 32

Team: Team Sky

Tour de France history: Winner (2013, 2015, 2016)

Type of rider: overall contender

Aiming to make history, Froome’s strongest challengers are likely to be his former teammate Richie Porte, France’s Romain Bardet, Colombia’s Nairo Quintana and Italy’s Fabio Aru.

Froome has not enjoyed the best of preparations for Le Tour, having finished fourth in the traditional warm-up race, the Criterium du Dauphine – an event each of his Tour wins have been preceded by a victory in.

An 18th-place finish in the Tour de Romandie also suggests he has not been in top form yet this season, but Froome, and Team Sky, are masters of peaking when the time comes.

Mark Cavendish

MarkCavendishTdF3200SB16

Age: 32

Team: Team Dimension Data

Tour de France history: 30-time stage winner

Type of rider: sprinter

The stage-winner extraordinaire has amassed a whopping 30 wins in the Tour de France, just four behind the all-time record held by Belgian Merckx.

However Cavendish is another Brit who has suffered this spring, having been diagnosed with glandular fever following Milan-San Remo in March, and only having returned to racing earlier this month.

He will have his trusted Dimension Data lieutenants around him in the Tour though, and with six of the first 11 stages being flat, no-one would bet against the Manxman adding to his tally in 2017.

Geraint Thomas

GeraintThomasTdF3200SB16

Age: 31

Team: Team Sky

Tour de France history: Seven appearances, best of 15th (2015, 2016)

Type of rider: Chris Froome’s right-hand-man

Geraint Thomas was not supposed to be riding the Tour de France this season, his main goal was the Giro d’Italia and going for a first Grand Tour podium.

All that changed though on stage nine of the race as a collision with a police motorbike, parked in the road, meant he suffered a knee injury, lost time on the stage and eventually was forced to pull out of the race.

After successive 15th places in Le Tour, Thomas will be Team Sky’s go-to guy should Froome not be up to his usual stellar best, but if his teammate is on form then the Welshman will be a key ally in the mountains for his leader.

Simon Yates

SimonYatesTdF3200SB15

Age: 24

Team: Orica-Scott

Tour de France history: Two appearances, best of 89th (2015)

Type of rider: climber

The diminutive Lancastrian has long been a talent of note, and now seems the time for him to come good on that promise with a breakthrough Grand Tour performance.

After his twin brother Adam finished fourth and won the White Jersey for best young rider last year, Simon will be hopeful of something similar as Orica-Scott head into the race with a two-pronged attack.

Yates and Esteban Chaves will be their team’s protected men throughout the race, with the Colombian on the comeback trail from injury and not knowing if he will be able to reach the peak that took him to two Grand Tour podiums last year – if not then Yates will be an able second man.

Steve Cummings

SteveCummingsTdF3200SB16

Age: 36

Team: Team Dimension Data

Tour de France history: Four appearances, two stage wins

Type of rider: breakaway specialist

Unsure of his place at Le Tour until just this week, the veteran enjoyed a remarkable week at the British National Road Championships, winning both the time trial and road race.

A teammate of Cavendish, Cummings broke his collarbone, shoulder blade and sternum in a crash earlier this year, with last weekend marking his return to action.

And it could not have gone much better, with the man who has won a stage in Le Tour in each of the last two years leaving the Dimension Data staff little option but to pick him in their team.

Luke Rowe

LukeRoweTdF3200SB15

Age: 27

Team: Team Sky

Tour de France history: Helped Chris Froome to two overall victories

Type of rider: domestique

A more loyal domestique you are unlikely to find than Luke Rowe, with the Welshman having been by Chris Froome’s side for each of his last two Tour victories.

While Rowe spends the spring as the leader of Team Sky during the cobbled classics, come summer he is the workhorse for Froome during the flat stages of Le Tour, or on the valley roads that punctuate the more mountainous fair later in the race.

He may not hit the headlines or ever get a stage win in the race, but every winning team needs a man like Rowe.

Dan McLay

DanMcLaySB3200

Age: 25

Team: Fortuneo-Vital Concept

Tour de France history: One appearance

Type of rider: sprinter

Dan McLay has progressed through the ranks and gets a second shot at Le Tour thanks to his team being offered a wildcard by race organisers ASO.

The sprinter racked up four top-ten finishes during his 2016 debut at Le Tour, and despite finishing 170th overall, his speed makes him an outside contender for a stage win should Cavendish and his rivals falter.

Ben Swift

BenSwift3200SB

Age: 29

Team: UAE Team Emirates

Tour de France history: One appearance

Type of rider: sprinter

Swift by name, swift by nature, but the former Team Sky man is more than just an out and out speedster – he can get over lumps and bumps in the road better than most sprinters, but still has the turn of speed to win at the end.

After seven years with Team Sky, in which he only gained selection for the 2011 Tour de France squad, the Yorkshireman moved on to pastures new over the winter and will be hoping for success on the slightly hillier stages.

Scott Thwaites

ScottThwaites3200SB17

Age: 27

Team: Team Dimension Data

Tour de France history: Debut

Type of rider: domestique

Scott Thwaites will soon be able to call himself a Tour de France rider – a badge of honour for any professional cyclist.

For him a goal will be to finish the race, as well as helping Cavendish in his quest for stage wins – and don’t be surprised to see him try his luck in a breakaway or two, either.

Sportsbeat 2017

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