2013 Tour de France: Four Britons named in Team Sky squad
Team Sky have named the eight riders they believe will help Britain's Chris Froome win the 2013 Tour de France.
Froome, 28, who was second in 2012 behind team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins, is joined by fellow Brits Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh.
Australia's Richie Porte, Spain's David Lopez, Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway and Belarusian duo Kanstantsin Siutsou and Vasil Kiryienka make up the squad.
"We have a strong squad," said Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford.
"We have a group of nine riders that are all in great form and ready for the challenge ahead.
- Born Nairobi 20 May 1985, one of four brothers
- Started racing BMXs and mountain bikes in Kenya, before family moved to Johannesburg when he was 14
- Began economics degree in South Africa but quit to become a pro cyclist aged 22
- Finished 84th on Tour de France debut in 2008
- Competed in 2006 Commonwealth Games for Kenya, but later declared for British Cycling
- Joined Team Sky in 2010
- Illness/fitness problems hamper him through first half of 2012, before coming good to help Wiggins win Tour de France and claiming second on podium
"The Tour de France has been the main goal for Chris this season and he goes into the race in great shape. With four stage-race wins this year Chris has not only grown as a rider but also importantly as a leader.
"Around him are eight quality riders who have each earned their place in the team. They will add the climbing ability and the engines to provide the perfect support for Chris, especially in the crucial mountain stages.
"We've seen what this group are capable of at the Dauphine and all have raced with Chris successfully at some stage this year."
Froome has won four of the five stage races he has entered this year, finishing second in the other, and seven members of this squad helped him win the Criterium du Dauphine earlier in June - a race in which Porte finished second.
"In Richie we simply have one of the strongest climbers in the world," said Froome. "He is another rider who's more than capable of winning a Grand Tour in his own right. Having him in our ranks gives us a number of different options to play."
Belarusian Siutsou, who was forced to abandon last year's race after breaking his leg in a crash on stage three, will provide support in the mountains, along with team-mate Kiryienka and Australia's Porte.
"Ian, Vasil and Kosta each possess huge engines that you can't go into a Tour without," continued Froome.
"They will be controlling things on the front for long periods of the race and pacing me once the climbing begins. Geraint, David and Pete will then take up the reins. Those guys have really improved their climbing abilities and will be a massive help when the pace really ramps up in the mountains."
Froome is the favourite to emulate Wiggins and become the second British winner of the three-week race. Spain's Alberto Contador, who has won the three-week race twice before, is likely to be his main challenger.
The 100th edition of the Tour de France begins in Corsica on 29 June, with the final stage finishing on the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday, 21 July.