Ian Stannard is a key part of Team Sky’s Classic squad and plays the part of a super-domestique in stage races, having been included in Chris Froome’s team for all three of his Tour de France victories (2013, 2015 and 2016).
Stannard was originally a product of the early years of British Cycling’s Olympic Academy. He made his breakthrough on the road in 2007, riding the latter part of the season as a stagiaire for the T-Mobile team and winning the Milano-Brusetto race.
The young Briton then joined the Belgian Landbouwkrediet team, which although not a top-level team, was more beneficial for Stannard as it allowed him to ride some of the Classics in the early part of the season, something which would not have been possible at a bigger team. Stannard used this opportunity to his advantage, riding and completing the Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix: no mean feat for a neo-pro.
Stannard then joined the new British-backed Sky team for 2010 after a year spent with the Italo-Ukranian ISD outfit.
Stannard’s move to Sky worked for him in 2010, with his most eye-catching performance coming in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – recording a third place following a successful breakaway move. Stannard topped that in 2011 with a stage win in the Tour of Austria from an escape group.
In 2012, Stannard won the British road race title after making a solo move from an earlier escape, but his racing stepped up a notch in 2013, where he confirmed his status as a genuine Classics contender. Sixth place at Milan-San Remo was the highlight, but Stannard was a protagonist of aggressive riding throughout the early-season campaign.
After a strong 2013 classics season that nonetheless saw him come away without a victory, Stannard came good in 2014 with a win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, out-sprinting Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). Stannard then repeated the feat in 2015, winning from a four-man escape group containing Etixx-QuickStep team-mates Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh.
Although 2016 was marked by just one victory – a stage of the Tour of Britain – Stannard put in an impressive performance at Paris-Roubaix, placing third for his first podium appearance in a Monument.