2014 withdrawal drives Froome’s bid to reclaim Tour title

Chris Froome will use the heartache of crashing out of the Tour de France last year as motivation for another tilt at glory.

The 30-year-old was one of five Britons named in Team Sky’s nine-man line-up for the Tour yesterday morning and will compete along with Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe, Nicolas Roche, Leopold Konig and Wout Poels in the gruelling race, which gets under way in Utrecht, Holland this Saturday.

Froome, who won the event in 2013, said: “Last year’s disappointment is this year’s motivation for Team Sky.

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“From the moment I crashed out in 2014, I’ve had the burning desire to get back to this year’s Tour in the best possible shape.

“I’m ready and I’m fortunate to have a strong team around me selected to meet the many different challenges of this year’s race – from the cobbles to the climbs.

“There’s a great spirit in the group and we’re ready to give our best for every kilometre of every day over the three weeks of the Tour. We’re counting down the days. We can’t wait to get started and we are up for the challenge ahead.”

Team principal Sir Dave Brailsford is confident Team Sky will be in the mix, but admits they can take nothing for granted.

He said: “We’ve studied this year’s route carefully and have selected the riders who we believe will best deliver our race strategy. Inevitably it is always a difficult decision.

“We’re all looking forward to a great race, but of course we can take nothing for granted.

“One thing we can say for certain is that it’s going to be a great contest and a great three weeks of racing for the fans.”

The race is being billed as a four-way battle between Froome, Spain’s Alberto Contador, Italian Vincenzo Nibali and Colombian Nairo Quintana, and Brailsford is confident his man has got what it takes to reclaim the crown.

“He’s in good shape,” added Brailsford. “He’s healthy, he’s fit, he’s hungry and everything has just fallen into place nicely for his assault on the Tour this year.

“We have got four of the world’s best riders all going head-to-head. It looks like it’s the first time they are all going to be in top form at the Tour de France, and it’s hard to choose between them.”

Yesterday’s announcement came just days after Froome revealed he had missed two drugs tests, one in 2010 because he had mis-timed a training session, and another more recently when hotel staff would not allow testers access to his room.

Brailsford insisted he was satisfied with the rider’s explanation on both occasions.