Team Sky Tour de France squad: the ingredients for success?

Cycling Weekly breaks down the Team Sky squad for the 2015 Tour de France and discusses which role each rider may play over the three weeks

Sir David Brailsford revealed the nine names who would tackle the Tour de France for Team Sky in July, with the British-based squad confident on delivering Chris Froome to victory.

But will the nine riders deliver the goods? Here we break down what they all bring to the table for Sky as they look to win their third Tour title in the space of four years.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome wins Stage 8 and the overall 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

Chris Froome wins Stage 8 and the overall 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

Tour de France appearances: Four
Best Tour result: First overall (2013)

Chris Froome will lead Team Sky at the Tour de France for the third successive time, but the Brit will be hoping this time will be more like his 2013 victory than his abandonment last year.

His Tour pedigree is pretty decent – finishing second overall in 2012 as he helped Sir Bradley Wiggins to victory, then going one better the following year.

Last year, however, was a Tour to forget for Froome, crashing out of the race on stage five and settling for a podium place at the Vuelta a España instead.

Froome has been on reasonably strong form to start 2015, winning the early-season Ruta del Sol and winning his second race at the Criterium du Dauphiné in June.

His climbing abilities see him touted as one of the favourites for the Tour, showing his form by grabbing two mountain-top stage wins at the Dauphiné.

Richie Porte

Giro d'Italia - Stage 11

Tour de France appearances: Four
Best Tour result: 19th (2013)

What a season it’s been for Richie Porte. Unbeatable in the first quarter and then brought roughly back down to earth at the Giro d’Italia.

Second place at the Tour Down Under was followed by a fourth-place in the Volta ao Algarve (won by Geraint Thomas). Then his winning streak started. Firstly a second Paris-Nice title was added to his resume, followed by the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino.

Going into the Giro d’Italia in such great form gave Team Sky great hopes they’d finally crack the Italian race, but the cycling gods, and race commissaires, were against the Australian.

By accepting a wheel from fellow Antipodean Simon Clarke was adjudged to be against the rules, and Porte was docked two minutes in addition to the time he had already lost on the stage.

Then he was involved in another crash which ultimately hastened his withdrawal from the race, allowing him to focus on getting ready for the Tour.

Porte is one of two surviving members of the victorious 2012 Tour (Froome being the other) and his pedigree in the mountains marks him out as one of the best domestiques in the peloton.

Whether he will have the fitness to be Froome’s right-hand man for the three weeks is yet to be seen, but Porte will surely be an asset as the race reaches its conclusion.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas on stage six of the 2015 Tour de Suisse (Watson)

Geraint Thomas on stage six of the 2015 Tour de Suisse (Watson)

Tour de France appearances: Five
Best Tour result: 22nd (2014)

Geraint Thomas missed out on Team Sky’s 2012 Tour de France win because he was too busy preparing to win a gold medal at the London Olympics.

The Welshman returned to the fray in 2013 and despite breaking his pelvis on stage one he battled on to Paris, finishing 140th overall.

Dave Brailsford admitted during the Team Sky squad announcement that it won’t be long until Thomas leads his own team, but for now he will provide Froome with a trusted lieutenant.

Like Porte, Thomas has started the season in imperious form. Winning in the Algarve was followed by victory on the cobbles at E3 Harelbeke and third overall in a windy edition of Ghent-Wevelgem.

Back in the stage races he narrowly missed out to Simon Spilak to finish second in the Tour de Suisse, with strong performances in the mountain stages.

Thomas could be among the leading riders in the opening time trial in Utrecht, but will likely be one to watch on the cobbles of stage four if given a free rein to go for the win.

Peter Kennaugh


Tour de France appearances: One
Best Tour result: 77th (2013)

Peter Kennaugh says he still can’t understand why he was left out of the 2014 Tour squad, but having retained his national champions jersey in Lincoln, the Manxman is back at the Grand Boucle.

His early season was blighted by injury, keeping him out for two months between February and April.

Ninth overall at the Tour of California and then a stage win at the Criterium du Dauphiné shows Kennaugh is back to somewhere near his best.

His team pursuit skills will be put to good use in stage nine’s team time trial, with the endurance also likely to be vital as Team Sky lead the peloton in search of the yellow jersey for Froome.

Ian Stannard

Ian Stannard in the 2015 Ghent-Wevelgem (Watson)

Ian Stannard in the 2015 Ghent-Wevelgem (Watson)

Tour de France appearances: One
Best Tour result: 19th (stage 14, 2013)

Like Kennaugh, Ian Stannard returns to for his second Tour de France having also missed 2014. Stannard, however, was ruled out with a broken back suffered at Ghent-Wevelgem earlier in the season.

Stannard returned to the Northern Classics this year with intent and notched up his second Omloop Het Nieuwsblad win, outfoxing a host of Etixx-Quick-Step riders in an extraordinary finale.

In Stannard, Team Sky have the ultimate workhorse, with the Essex-born rider possessing the ability to spend long periods at the front of the bunch.

He finished third in Lincoln on Sunday and will be one of the riders entrusted with guiding Froome safely over the cobbles on stage four of the Tour.

Luke Rowe

Luke Rowe in the 2015 Paris-Roubaix (Watson)

Luke Rowe in the 2015 Paris-Roubaix (Watson)

Tour de France appearances: Debut
Best Tour result: N/A

If there’s one thing Luke Rowe has done this season it’s impress. A top-10 overall finish at the Tour of Qatar set the ball rolling before he proved himself an able helper to Geraint Thomas in the cobbled Classics.

With all the build-up to Paris-Roubaix focussing on the chances of Thomas and Wiggins, Rowe flew somewhat under the radar by finishing eighth overall – Sky’s highest placed rider.

While it may be Rowe’s Tour debut, there will be few doubts whether he’s ready for the demands of the race. He completed the Vuelta a Espana last season and has risen through the ranks quickly since then.

Leopold König

Leopold Konig after stage sixteen of the 2015 Tour of Italy (Watson)

Leopold Konig after stage sixteen of the 2015 Tour of Italy (Watson)

Tour de France appearances: One
Best Tour result: Seventh overall (2014)

Leopold König was relatively unheralded when he climbed to seventh overall in the Tour last year, but by joining Team Sky the Czech has backed up the talent he showed there.

Thrown straight in at the deep end, König joined Porte at the Giro d’Italia and ended up taking over the leadership after the Australian’s departure.

The former NetApp-Endura rider finished sixth overall on the back of some strong performances in the final week of the Giro.

His national championships time trial and road race (finishing second in both) are his only two days racing since the Giro so it’s hard to know exactly how his legs will have recovered from the three weeks of exertion, but König undoubtedly offers a lot for Froome in the mountains.

Nicolas Roche

Nicolas Roche at the Ruta del Sol (Watson)

Nicolas Roche at the Ruta del Sol (Watson)

Tour de France appearances: Five
Best Tour result: 12th (2012)

There was some concern for Nicolas Roche when his name wasn’t on an 11-man shortlist accidentally published on the Team Sky website last week.

But it turns out the experience Irishman was in Team Sky’s plans all along as he prepares to start his sixth Tour de France.

Having joined Tinkoff-Saxo from Ag2r-La Mondiale for the 2013 season, Roche acted as a domestique for Alberto Contador at the Tour in both 2013 and 2014.

His transition to Sky saw him inserted into Froome’s bodyguard straight away. This season Roche has followed Froome to all of his stage races, as well as riding Paris-Nice in support of Porte.

Wout Poels

Wouter Poels on stage one of the 2015 Dauphine-LIbere (Watson)

Wouter Poels on stage one of the 2015 Dauphine-LIbere (Watson)

Tour de France appearances: One
Best Tour result: Seventh (stage nine, 2013)

Wout Poels seems to be Chris Froome’s new best mate. And what Tour contender wouldn’t want to ride alongside an athlete like Poels?

Already at Team Sky, having joined at the start of the year, he has proved himself to be a selfless domestique, while seizing his chances when given the opportunity to break out of his shell.

A stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico gave him the leader’s jersey and proved he’s a danger in his own right.

With Poels, Froome knows he’ll be in safe hands – something that he’s not short of in this year’s Tour.

 Cycling Weekly’s panel of experts discuss the 2015 Tour de France contenders