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Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard return from team that supported last year's victory...

Team Sky have announced the line-up that will support defending champion Chris Froome as he looks to win the Tour de France for the third time in four seasons.

Besides Froome, the team features four riders who helped him secure his second yellow jersey last year – Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Wout Poels.

They will be joined on the starting line at Mont St-Michel a week on Saturday by Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Mikel Nieve and Mikel Landa.

“The Tour de France will always be the pinnacle of our sport,” said Froome, who earlier this month won the Critérium du Dauphiné.

“I feel in good shape coming into the race this year and am fortunate to have a strong team around me – both on and off the bike.

"Every rider obviously starts every new Tour equal and what has gone before counts for nothing. This year I am hungrier than ever for success.

"We know how hard this race will be and how much we will have to give if we want to win it again.

"But we have trained hard,” he added. “We’re ready for the challenge and can’t wait to get back racing in front of the millions of people in France who make the race so special."

Thomas, who impressed at last year’s race, sitting fourth overall with just three stages remaining, comes to the 103rd edition of the Tour de France, his seventh participation, as Froome’s deputy in a season that has seen him win Paris-Nice.

Landa, who joined from Astana at the start of 2016, led Team Sky at last month’s Giro d’Italia but abandoned through illness, while Henao, given the all-clear to race by the UCI at the end of May after it examined his biological passport data, makes his Tour de France debut.

Riders who raced for Team Sky last year but miss out this time round include Peter Kennaugh, who broke his collarbone at the Tour of California last month, Leopold Konig, who has only just returned to racing following a knee injury, and Nicolas Roche.

Also missing is former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski, who joined Sky at the start of the season but has struggled with illness since the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “Every Tour is different, so that means choosing the team we believe is best equipped to deal with the many different challenges of this race.

"We have selected a talented group of riders with Chris as the leader once again. I know they will do everything they can to help him try to win yellow.

"We can take a lot of confidence as a team from what we have achieved already this year, but we know how much it takes to win the Tour.

“Of course there are a number of riders in other teams capable of putting in a challenge for overall victory,” Brailsford continued.

“That’s great news for cycling fans, who can look forward to seeing some really competitive racing.

"We are as excited as the fans about what’s to come and we’re looking forward to getting started next Saturday.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.