A British Grand Depart – but where are the British riders?

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?

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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