Meet the five Brits who will be on the start line in Noirmoitier en l'Île for the 2018 Tour de France
The 2018 Tour de France start list has been all but finalised, with all 22 teams having announced their eight riders.
Among the selections are a total of five British riders – well short of the record of 10 British riders who took to the start line in the 1955, 1968, and 2015 editions of the race, and the nine British riders who took part last year
Pre-race favourite Chris Froome will be leading Team Sky as he seeks to take a record-equalling fifth Tour triumph. Froome will take to the start line just a few days after an anti-doping investigation into him was dropped by the UCI.
The 33-year-old has one the last three editions of the race, with Team Sky having also taken victory in every edition bar one since Bradley Wiggins took Britain’s first Tour triumph in 2012.
As well as aiming to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain on five Tour de France victories, Froome will also be trying to become the first rider since Marco Pantani to win the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia in the same year.
Watch: Tour de France 2018 preview
Should Froome falter, then expect Geraint Thomas to step into the role of Team Sky leader having enjoyed a successful first half of the season.
Thomas crashed out of the Tour while sitting in second place behind Froome on stage nine of last year’s race, and looked in excellent form as he won the Critéium du Dauphiné in June.
The third and final Brit in Team Sky’s squad is Luke Rowe, who will be the team’s road captain (responsible for making quick tactical decisions in the middle of stages) and a vital domestique for Froome on flat stages and in the early stages in the mountains.
Rowe’s presence in the race is remarkable in itself after he suffered a badly broken leg while white water rafting on his brother’s stag party last August. The 28-year-old has staged an incredible recovery, riding the Classics in the spring before preparing for the Tour with an altitude camp in Tenerife alongside his Team Sky team-mates.
Yates’s best performance in the Tour came in 2016 when he finished fourth overall and won the best young rider’s white jersey, and the 25-year-old looked in good shape once again as he finished second behind Thomas at last month’s Dauphiné.
The rest of the Mitchelton-Scott team consists of a number of strong domestiques, with Yates’s biggest help in the mountains likely to come from former Team Sky man Mikel Nieve.
Last but not least is Mark Cavendish, the winner of no fewer than 30 Tour de France stages and a man in search of the all-time record for Tour stage wins which stands at 34 for Eddy Merckx.
Cavendish has won four or more stages in a single year on five occasions, but has won just one race this year, which came way back in February at the Dubai Tour.
The 2018 Tour de France kicks off in Noimoitier en l’Île on Saturday July 7 and concludes three weeks later in Paris on Sunday, July 29.