Tour de France: Brit Ben Swift named in Team Sky squad

Tour de France 2011

  • Dates: Saturday 2 July - Sunday 24 July
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Coverage: Listen live to every stage finish on the BBC Sport website (UK only); live text commentary on key stages; updates on BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra

Ben Swift will make his Tour de France debut as one of three British riders in the Team Sky line-up for the event  .

Highly rated Swift, 23, from Rotherham, will join Welshman Geraint Thomas as Sky aim to make Bradley Wiggins the first Brit to make the podium in Paris.

"I am delighted that Ben Swift will be making his Tour debut," said team principal Dave Brailsford.

"He will absolutely thrive on this opportunity to test himself on the biggest stage of all."

Swift has won five races already this year

Competing in the Tour de France is what every young rider dreams of and I'm really excited about the challenge ahead

Ben Swift

Three-time Olympic champion Wiggins, who fronts the nine-man group for the Tour, finished fourth in the 2009 edition of the race but was 24th in Team Sky's debut last year.

However, he showed his form by winning the Criterium du Dauphine  earlier in June, backed by the same line-up, with the exception of Swift.

"The team is in great shape, full of confidence and riding well," added Wiggins.

"We all want to put on a good show for our fans as their support for the team throughout this season has been incredible. It's going to be a great three weeks of racing."

Swift already has Grand Tour experience in the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana, having begun his professional career in 2009 with Katusha, and has won five races this year.

He began the 2011 season with two stage victories at the Tour Down Under and then sprinted to wins at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, Tour de Romandie and the Tour of California, including a spell in the race leader's gold jersey.

Swift reflected: "Competing in the Tour de France is what every young rider dreams of and I'm really excited about the challenge ahead. The team is riding well and we can't wait to get going against the world's best riders."

The team will ride in green kit, rather than their usual blue, in support of a rainforest campaign.

Team Sky line-up:

Bradley Wiggins (GB) - Team leader, 31, riding in his fifth Tour de France, aiming to better his fourth place of 2009 and become the first British rider to stand on the podium as one of the top three overall finishers.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) - Highly rated 24-year-old, in his second Tour, is likely to contest the sprint stages.

Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) - One of the team's captains on the road, the 33-year-old won a stage of the Tour as long ago as 2003.

Simon Gerrans (Aus) - The 31-year-old's injury in last year's Tour was seen as a key factor in Wiggins' disappointing showing and he will be a mountain ally this time.

Christian Knees (Ger) - Powerful 30-year-old will help lead out sprints and chase down breakaways.

Ben Swift (GB) - Exciting youngster is likely to feature in sprint finishes early in the race.

Geraint Thomas (GB) - Track star and road all-rounder, who was the youngest rider in the Tour when he made his debut aged 21 in 2007; wore the Tour's white jersey as best young rider for the first week last year.

Rigoberto Uran (Col) - A new arrival at Team Sky this year, the 24-year-old is an impressive climber on whom Wiggins will rely towards the end of the most gruelling stages.

Xabier Zandio (Spa) - Although a Team Sky new boy, the 34-year-old has competed in 10 Grand Tours, including five successive appearances at the Tour, and will serve as key supporter for Wiggins in the mountains.