Great Britain are not expected to represented with quantity at the 2021 Tour de France, but instead with a little more than a handful of star quality.
Although official team sheets have yet to be announced, it is thought that six British riders will line-up for the start in Brest, with UK-registered team Ineos Grenadiers fielding half.
In 2020 there were just four Brits present as Tadej Pogačar claimed his maiden yellow jersey, but this time around there are two from the country with genuine aspirations of succeeding the Slovenian, and maybe even a third if circumstances fall his way.
Geraint Thomas, Ineos Grenadiers
The Welshman won the race in 2018, finished runner-up in the defence of his title and returns to La Grand Boucle after missing out on selection in 2020.
His form this season suggests that he is as strong as ever and it would be a major surprise were he not to cause Pogačar and Primoż Roglič problems in the mountains and time trials.
The 35-year-old knows that time is running out in his quest to win at least one more Grand Tour, and it appears that he is determined to add another to his collection, bruised by his Tour snub last summer, an untimely fall at the Giro d’Italia and perception that his best days were behind him.
Tao Geoghegan Hart, Ineos Grenadiers
It was Thomas’s crash at last autumn’s Giro that ultimately paved the way for Geoghegan Hart’s own stab at pink which spectacularly paid off in the final time trial.
The Londoner crashed hard at March’s Paris-Nice and was off the pace at his comeback race, the Tour of the Basque Country. Since then, he has slowly returned to form, with a second-place on stage six at the Criterium du Dauphine and finishing 10th overall.
Whether or not he is in the same shape as when he won in Italy is a question that no-one, probably least of all him, has the answer to.
It’s most likely he will ride in support of Thomas, but given his win in Italy, he should not be ruled out for a high-GC placing.
Simon Yates, Team BikeExchange
Off the back from finishing third at the Giro d’Italia where some days he looked the best climber in the peloton and other days he seemed to be a shadow of his previous performances, the Bury-man returns to the Tour for a fifth time.
He claimed two stages in the 2019 edition and that’s what his goals are this time around as well, with the Olympics road race deemed his season objective.
But should the 28-year-old happen to be in an advantageous position on GC after a week’s racing, you would be foolish to think the 2018 Vuelta a España victor would forgo the chance to win a second Grand Tour.
Chris Froome, Israel Start-Up Nation
The four-time winner returns to the race for the first time since 2018.
He may not be going to win a fifth title, and instead riding in support of his team leader Michael Woods, but the 35-year-old’s mere presence at the race is an achievement in itself given the injuries he sustained two years ago at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
It’s been well-documented that Froome is more acquainted to the rear than the front of the peloton nowadays, but expect the TV cameras to focus on him a lot.
Luke Rowe, Ineos Grenadiers
There are few road captains more trusted and respected in cycling than Luke Rowe, who will line-up for his seventh Tour.
Prior to last year, Rowe had a 100% win record in the Tour, a remarkable return on five appearances.
He and Thomas have a very strong personal friendship, while his decision-making on the road has been credited with a lot of Ineos Grenadiers’ success in the past decade. An invaluable member of the British team’s eight-man squad.
Alex Dowsett, Israel Start-Up Nation
Although not yet confirmed, Alex Dowsett is set to ride his third Tour, just five weeks after abandoning the Giro d’Italia.
The time trial specialist will have his sights set on the race’s two tests against the clock, and he will also back himself should he make it into a day’s breakaway.
Like so many riding the Tour, Dowsett has Olympic aspirations and he knows that a good showing in France could set him up for a crack at success in Toyko, should he be on the flight to Japan
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