TEAM SKY have named their nine-man squad for the Tour de France, led by the defending champion, Chris Froome, writes Susan Swarbrick.

The Australian Richie Porte will again take on the mantle as Froome's super domestique as the race departs Yorkshire a week today. Geraint Thomas, fresh from taking silver in the British Time Trial Championships, will compete for a fifth time.

Bernhard Eisel, Mark Cavendish's former wingman, is also included, as are climbing specialists Mikel Nieve, David Lopez and Xabier Zandio. Vasil Kiryienka and Danny Pate, nicknamed Sky's "diesel engine", will be charged with driving the pace on the flatter stages.

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Sir Bradley Wiggins does not make the squad. Sky's team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said each rider had been selected for their ability to offer "total sacrifice and commitment to the team's ambition of reaching the Champs Elysees in yellow" for a third consecutive year.

"Given the number of talented riders in Team Sky this approach has inevitably lead to some very tough decisions," he said. "It has been a golden decade for cycling.

"Bradley Wiggins lies at the heart of a lot of that success and although he has not been selected for this race he is still a key member of Team Sky and a great champion."

Froome described Sky's selection as a "strong team full of experience and ability". He added: "We've spent a lot of time together this year which is important. We're ready to get started and can't wait to get to Yorkshire."