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Wales’ Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas and Giro d’Italia winner Chris Froome will ride together in the OVO Energy Tour of Britain for the first time since 2009.
Team Sky’s British pair, who placed first and third in July’s Tour de France, will both be on the start line of Britain’s biggest annual sporting event in Pembrey Country Park, Carmarthenshire, on Sunday 2 September.
The presence of the duo is a huge boost to the Tour of Britain and is great news for Welsh Cycling to have both racing on Welsh roads.
Thomas said: “As soon as I’d finished the Tour I knew I wanted to ride the Tour of Britain and race on home roads. It starts in Wales which will be special, and then I get to go and race across the whole of the UK. I can’t wait.
“I want to go to the race in the shape to compete and enjoy it. We’ll have to see how the next few weeks go but I’m looking forward to it and I know we will have a strong team there. Wout is looking really good at the moment too.”
Welshman Thomas is a regular at the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, having ridden it eight times since his debut with a Great British national team in 2005.
He finished sixth overall in 2009 and wore the British Road Race Champion’s jersey during the race in 2010 (Team Sky’s debut in the event), while his seventh-placed finish in the 2017 edition also saw him crowned the Adnams Best British Rider.
Froome’s two participations to date came in 2007 and 2009. He placed 31st overall in the former, while two years later (when he lined up alongside Thomas as part of the Barloworld-Bianchi team) he finished 50th.
Since then he has established himself as the leading Grand Tour rider of his generation, having won four Tours de France, the 2017 Vuelta a Espana and the 2018 Giro d’Italia.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced the Tour of Britain,” said Froome. “The Vuelta a Espana has always been such a big goal and sadly coincided with the Tour of Britain, but not doing La Vuelta this year gives me the chance to come back to the UK and race on what looks like a great parcours.
“I’m really looking forward to riding. I always remember there being a great atmosphere at the Tour of Britain and the race has only got bigger over the years. I’m really looking forward to coming back.”
They will be joined by Dutchman Wout Poels, himself a three-time stage winner in the race, including the hill-top finishes at Hartside and Haytor. The rest of the Team Sky line-up will be announced in due course.
Poels needs little introduction to British cycling fans, having ridden alongside Froome in five of his seven Grand Tour victories, as well as Thomas at this year’s Tour de France. He won his first Tour of Britain stage aged just 23, when he soloed to victory in Teignmouth on Stage Four in 2010.
Race Director Mick Bennett said: “We’re honoured and thrilled that Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome will race for Team Sky at this year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
“To have two of Britain’s greatest-ever riders – the reigning Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winners no less – competing in the race is fantastic news for our fans, who will line the streets in order to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
“We saw the amazing response that Geraint received during his homecoming celebrations in Cardiff last week – the fact that Stage One on Sunday 2 September takes place entirely within Wales means this time the whole country will be able to celebrate his incredible success in France from the summer!
“Since he last rode in the race, Chris has become – without any doubt – the leading Grand Tour rider of his generation. We’re delighted to welcome him back to the OVO Energy Tour of Britain after his Tour, Giro and Vuelta successes in the past year.
“I’m also looking forward to watching Wout’s return to the race, having seen his three previous OVO Energy Tour of Britain stage victories up close. He’ll be one to watch during this year’s hill-top finish at Whinlatter on Stage Six, that’s for sure!”
Already confirmed for the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain are Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’s Marcel Kittel and Alex Dowsett. Further rider announcements will follow in due course; the race’s provisional startlist will be published on Friday 24 August.