British talent has been projected into the limelight of Grand Tours in recent seasons, as riders from these isles have dominated the podiums of three week races.
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As we head into the biggest race of the year, the Tour de France, the Brits will be high on the watch list for any rivals after all three major tours were won by three different riders from the nation – Chris Froome in the Giro d’Italia, Geraint Thomas at the Tour, and finally Simon Yates at the Vuelta a España.
With this recent success in mind, we look at all of the Brits currently expected to rider the 2019 Tour de France:
The most obvious Brit to keep a firm eye on during this year’s Tour is the winner of the 2018 edition, Geraint Thomas.
As a long-standing support rider at Team Sky (now Team Ineos), the Welshman had stacked up an imposing collection of wins without ever announcing himself as a future Grand Tour winner.
But that all changed for Thomas last year, when he won the Critérium du Dauphiné and announced himself as the strongest rider at the Tour when he won stage 11 to La Rosiére.
Benefiting from his own glowing performances and the ailing form of pre-race favourite and team-mate Chris Froome, who had ridden to a staggering victory at the Giro just weeks earlier.
Thomas’s preparation for this year’s Tour has been heavily hindered, abandoning Tirreno-Adriatico in March due to stomach problems, heading home from a training camp in Tenerife due to snow later that month, and most recently crashing out of the Tour de Suisse in June.
Despite the setbacks, Thomas has been given the all-clear to race in France and is confident in his own abilities, recently saying his is almost at optimum weight.
It has been a quiet 2019 so far for the 33-year-old, whose best finish was a third place overall at the Tour de Romandie in May, but he enters the race as favourite with a formidable cast of Team Ineos support riders behind him.
Another of the British Grand Tour hopes is Adam Yates, who continues his pursuit of a podium finish in France.
On paper it was almost impossible to separate Adam and his twin brother Simon until last season when Simon emphatically won the Vuelta a España, his first and (so far) only general classification victory.
Both have been consistently strong in week-long stage races, between them finishing second overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné, Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie and Paris-Nice.
But Adam has yet to find his opportunity to join Simon in the history books as a British Grand Tour winner.
His closest attempt so far was the 2016 Tour where he finished fourth overall and won the young rider’s classification, and followed up with a ninth-place at the Giro the following year.
After a disappointing Tour in 2018, finishing 29th overall and only managing a third place stage finish, Yates will be hungry to prove himself this season.
The signs are looking good for the 26-year-old, who rode into the lead of the Critérium du Dauphine during the stage four time trial, but slipped to second before abandoning the race on the final stage due to stomach problems.
With improved time trial abilities and an ever-strong climbing pedigree, Yates goes into the race fourth favourite in the eyes of the bookmakers.
He’ll be deployed as a key helper for his Mitchelton-Scott team-mate and twin brother Adam in the mountains, in a course stacked with high-altitude passes and summit finishes. Yates will likely be the last rider remaining for his brother on the final climbs along with Australian Jack Haig.
Yates has had a light racing schedule this year as he targetted the Giro overall having come so close in 2018. He started the year with a a stage win at the Ruta del Sol before an unexpected time trial win at Paris-Nice. He then had a fairly quiet Volta a Catalunya in support of his brother ahead of the Giro.
The 26-year-old will head to the Tour with a potential stage win in mind, however he may need to keep something in the tank if he’s to defend his Vuelta a España title in August.
It’s Simon Yates’s first ride in the Tour since 2017 when he won the white jersey of the best young rider and his fourth career appearance.
A rider without any personal ambitions, Luke Rowe has become a fixture of the Team Ineos train over the last four years.
The Welshman has ridden and finished every Tour since 2015, with the British WorldTour outfit winning all of them.
Rowe is expected to take up his position once more as experienced road captain and tactical sage, skills that have made him an invaluable asset to the dominant Grand Tour racing team.
While the 29-year-old’s engine can often be scene driving the pace in the peloton or smashing the race to pieces in crosswinds, in the 2018 Tour Rowe also proved himself a daunting climber when he pulled his team-mates to the top of the Col de la Croix de Fer on the road to Alpe d’Huez during stage 12.
Despite riding for WorldTour teams – Team Sky, Movistar and Katusha – since 2011, this year’s Tour de France will only be Alex Dowsett’s fourth Grand Tour participation.
Two completions of the Giro d’Italia, with a stage win to boot in 2013, show that the Essex-born time trial specialist has what it takes to compete with the best in the world against the clock in a Grand Tour, but this will only be his second appearance at the Tour.
His first, riding for Movistar in 2015, ended after failing to recover from a crash on the cobbled stage four. He suffered through, but eventually abandoned in the Pyrenees on stage 12.
Now riding for Katusha-Alpecin, the 30-year-old heads to the Tour as a key lead out man in the sprints and domestique on the flatter roads. Jens Debusschere and Rick Zabel will likely be the riders going for sprints for the Swiss team at this year’s race, while Ilnur Zakarin will aim for a high overall placing.
Dowsett will also play a key part in the team time trial on stage two in Brussels, while he will have personal ambition to deliver a decent result in the race’s only individual time trial around Pau on stage 13.
He heads into the race in excellent form, having won the British national time trial title for a sixth time in June and fourth place in the road race.
Possibly the most unexpected pick for the Tour, Steve Cummings heads to the race as part of a Dimension Data team without 30-time stage winner Mark Cavendish.
Cummings, a two-time stage winner, has had a relatively quiet year by his standards, but will race in a squad built for hunting stage wins from breakaways.
A broken collarbone from a crash at the Tour of Basque Country this year has had the 38-year-old on the back-foot somewhat, and he hasn’t finished a stage race since Tirreno-Adriatico in March.
He showed that he has got some form however, riding to third place at the British Road National Championships time trial in June.
Cummings has finished every one of his previous five editions of the Tour – in fact he’s never failed to finish a Grand Tour in his entire career. His stage wins came in 2015, to the airfield in Mende, and in 2016 in the Pyrenees when he went solo over the Col d’Aspin to the finish in Lac de Payolle.