Only three British riders confirmed so far to take to start line in Leeds on Saturday

With Alex Dowsett and David Millar the latest British WorldTour riders to miss out on selection for the 2014 Tour de France, the big event’s celebration of British success in the race is starting to look very thin on the ground.

Of course, defending champion Chris Froome will be present on Saturday in Yorkshire, alongside Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas and sprinter Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), but where is everyone else?

Did the teams not get the memo?

The list of proven British talent not selected to ride when the Tour starts ‘at home’ is enough to make a very decent Tour team in its own right: Bradley Wiggins, Alex Dowsett, David Millar, Peter Kennaugh, Ben Swift, Andy Fenn, Josh Edmondson, Scott Thwaites, Luke Rowe, Adam Yates, Simon Yates…

And that’s not including the injured Steve Cummings and Ian Stannard, who are naturally out of the race due to their continued recuperation. I’ll also point out that Orica-GreenEdge, home of the Yates brothers, has yet to confirm its roster, but it’s thought that neither Adam or Simon will be included given it’s their first year in the pro ranks.

Of course, the teams will – and already have in some instances – insist that they have picked their nine-man squads to win the race. And from one point of view, that is fair enough. But the Tour has always offered more that just a winner.

It’s a three-week spectacle, and part of that is engaging with the millions of fans worldwide – including having riders in the race for them to support, whether they win or not. With three stages in Britain, it could have been a dream marketing opportunity for sponsors to have their British riders the centre of attention.

Instead, Britain’s own WorldTour team, Sky, has more Spanish riders (three) among its number than British (two). And that’s despite team principal Dave Brailsford saying: “The last time the Tour came to Britain it helped sow the seeds for what eventually became Team Sky”.

When the teams turn up in Yorkshire later this week and witness the size and enthusiasm of the crowds first hand – despite the lack of home riders to cheer – I can’t help thinking that many of them will wish that they’d brought their Brits.

Since this article was written Simon Yates has been selected by Orica-GreenEdge to ride the Tour

  • Geoff Waters

    Maybe it’s time the TdF returned to national teams. Back in the 1950s & 1960s the race under that system often had more British riders than the 2014 edition will.

  • OGE website

  • And now we have Simon Yates riding as well!

  • Not sure where you get your Simon Yates info from. There was no published OGE rosta when you wrote this

  • Syahmi Naim

    Excellent commentary on the situation given the amount invested in the Grand Depart by Yorkshire perhaps it was wistful thinking to expect teams to put forward some British Riders in their squads. As Hinault pointed out DB has taken the biggest gamble of his career in that he has placed all his bets on Froome and the “Froome” selected team – as befits a person residing in Monaco the marketing of Sky as a British Team has been revealed as the sham it has become. It will be interesting to see how the fans welcome the Teams – and will Banquo’s ghost be somewhere on the scene. It would be highly amusing for those not selected to be at the start and to see the welcome they are given

  • Trefor Jones

    DB’s team Sky’s selection is understandably based around Froome BUT this “win at all costs” strategy appears to deny young Ben Swift the opportunity of being the foil to CAV in the 3 Yorkshire stages. A UK SKY riders stage win would take the pressure off Froome and give the French Press something else to talk about other than TUE’s as indeed would be a Wiggins stage victory.

    DB’s resignation from his role in “British Cycling” has not entirely absolved him from promoting UK cycling as a whole and arguably more importantly this is a missed opportunity for “British Cycling” to as much as possible ensure UK riders are showcased to alternative “Global British” corporate sponsors (think GSK,BP, BT, BA/Iberia or Barclays , Shell) to so fund a future 2nd or (Sky post 2016 ) replacement World Tour team. “BC” has to reflect upon the fact that sponsors cannot live on an athletes or cyclists Olympic success once every 4 yeas – they need constant exposure on all continents where their markets exist and with the World tour events now being a solid 9 8-9 months the opportunity is there for the taking.

    By selecting his team Brailsford could be facing a media disaster with the French press certain to to pounce on Froome the moment he uses his inhaler or will DB either seek further exemptions or withdraw him as was the internal BC/Sky rule some 3 years ago. With no alternative to Froome other than “G” the UK “redtop press together with David Walsh will have a field day to the detriment to cycling as a whole in this country.