London - Britain's four-time Tour de France champion Chris
Froome says he is entering unknown territory as he bids to add a fifth win in
the world's greatest cycling race.
The 33-year-old Kenya-born rider - who if successful would
join Belgian legend Eddie Merckx as the only cyclists to win four successive
Tour de France - earned a late reprieve to line-up when he was cleared on
Monday of an alleged doping offence emanating from last year's Vuelta d'Espana,
which he won.
Froome heads the Team Sky line-up announced on Tuesday with
faithful lieutenant Geraint Thomas - perhaps in his final Tour with the team -
among the seven team-mates who will aid his challenge and add it to the Giro
d'Italia crown he won in May.
Froome is targeting a record-equalling fifth Tour de France
title - joining Merckx, French duo Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil and Spaniard
Miguel Indurain - as well as a fourth consecutive Grand Tour victory.
"The last twelve months have been the hardest but also
the most incredible of my career," Froome said in a statement released by
"I've never started the Tour de France after riding the
Giro d'Italia and it has meant a completely different approach to my season.
"But I learnt a lot from riding the Vuelta straight
after the Tour de France last year which has given me confidence coming into
"I want to make history with a fifth Tour de France win
and fourth consecutive Grand Tour. I am under no illusion about the challenge,
but I am feeling ready and I couldn't ask for a better team to support
Dave Brailsford, the principal of Team Sky, said there would
be no excuses if Froome comes up short as he is in peak shape and the team has
been selected as the ideal one to adapt to the challenges of this year's route.
"We go into the Tour with a lot of confidence,"
"Chris is in great shape after the Giro - mentally and
physically - and the whole team want to build on the success we had in Italy.
"Chris is already one of the greats of the sport. This
is a chance for him to cement that reputation even further."
Brailsford, who prior to Froome's Vuelta controversy had to
weather a storm over star rider Bradley Wiggins and the use of therapeutic use
exemption (TUEs)forms, said he expected the two debutants in the team,
21-year-old Colombian Egan Bernal and Italian Gianni Moscon, 24, to shine.
"It is a team of real versatility and one that balances
youth with experience," he said.
"They (Bernal and Moscon) are both very talented bike
riders and will have a lot to offer.
"It is also fantastic that Luke Rowe will be riding the
Tour again as our road captain after his serious accident last summer (he
suffered a double fracture of the leg last August when he went white water
rafting at his brother's stag weekend in Prague).
"It is testament to his ability and determination that
he has come back so strongly."
Chris Froome (GBR), Egan Bernal (COL), Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP), Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), Gianni Moscon (ITA), Wout Poels (NED), Luke Rowe (GBR), Geraint Thomas (GBR)