In-form Wiggins confident ahead of Tour

Bradley Wiggins believes he has a “great chance” of becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France after Team Sky named a nine-man squad packed with quality.

Fellow Brit Chris Froome – runner-up in last year’s Tour of Spain – and three-time world time trial champion Michael Rogers are among those dedicated to supporting Wiggins, who grew up in Maida Vale.

In his sixth Tour appearance Wiggins, 32, is in his best form ever, having finished on the podium in every stage race he has completed in the last 12 months.

Less than a fortnight ago he completed the unprecedented triple of victory in the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine in the same year when he defended his Dauphine crown.

“I’m really proud to be part of such a strong unit. The team’s preparation has been perfectly managed and our form this season gives us a great chance of being successful,” said Wiggins.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I’ll do everything I can to win the Tour de France.

“Hopefully we can do the business for ourselves and our fans, and become the most successful British-based cycling team ever.”

Wiggins’ chances are boosted by the absence of three-time champion Alberto Contador, who is serving a doping ban, and Andy Schleck, who fractured his pelvis during the Dauphine.

Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia is likely to be his key opponent.

Another Aussie, Richie Porte – a former team-mate of Contador – will join Froome and Rogers to support Wiggins in the mountains, while Christian Knees and Kanstantsin Siutsou will shepherd the Londoner during the flatter stages.

Norwegian Edvald Boassen Hagen and German Bernard Eisel look likely to have split duties, riding for Wiggins at times but also looking to set world champion Mark Cavendish up for sprint victories.

However, Cavendish admits it may not be possible to defend the green points jersey he won last year as Sky aim for the yellow jersey in the overall classification.

“Our priority this year is the general classification with Bradley but that doesn’t mean we’ll neglect the sprint stages, or Mark’s bid for green jersey,” said team boss David Brailsford.

“This squad is truly world class with a proven pedigree of success. They have trained, raced and lived together since the start of the season and that has moulded them into a well-oiled, focused and close-knit team.

“They are all full of confidence after their recent run of results and it’s going to be exciting to see how the race transpires.”

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