Tour debut edges closer for Yorkshire’s Thwaites

SCOTT Thwaites’ chances of making his Tour de France debut in Leeds this summer moved a step closer last night when his team were given a wild card into this year’s race.

Up-and-coming German outfit NetApp Endura were one of four teams selected last night alongside the 18 automatically-invited professional teams, of which Team Sky are Britain’s representatives.

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Burley-in-Wharfedale rider Thwaites, 23, is entering his second season with NetApp Endura and begins his campaign at the Mallorca Challenge in February.

He is a two-time winner of the Otley Grand Prix and a former national circuit race champion. A top-10 finish at the 2013 Tour of Britain was one of the highlights of his first year with NetApp, who themselves have risen quickly thanks mainly to the exploits of Leopold Konig, a Czech rider who won a stage of the Vuelta Espana last season.

This year’s Tour de France begins in Leeds on July 5, with the opening stage concluding in Harrogate. The second stage runs from York to Sheffield the following day.