11:50am Friday 27th June 2014
© Press Association 2014
Sir Bradley Wiggins will not ride for Team Sky in this year's Tour de France, team principal Sir David Brailsford has confirmed.
The 2012 champion had long since indicated that he would not be included in a squad built around Chris Froome, who last year succeeded him as yellow jersey winner.
Froome will be supported by his trusted lieutenant Richie Porte in a team also featuring Wiggins' fellow Great Britain Olympian Geraint Thomas.
Mikel Nieve, Bernhard Eisel, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Danny Pate and Xabier Zandio complete the line-up.
The Tour starts with the Grand Depart in Yorkshire next Saturday and continues until the traditional Champs Elysees climax on July 27.
Brailsford said: "Team Sky returns to the Tour de France with the reigning champion and we are looking to win the yellow jersey for the third time in three years and a second consecutive time for Chris Froome.
"We know how hard it is to win this race and that it takes a totally focused and carefully constructed team, with the right blend of riders, to give us the best chance of victory. Each rider has been selected to play a specific role which will involve total sacrifice and commitment to the team's ambition of reaching the Champs Elysees in yellow."
Froome has been in good form this season, winning both the Tour of Oman and Tour de Romandie and leading the Criterium du Dauphine until he was hampered by a crash on stage six.
He kept the lead that day, Thomas playing a key role in getting him back into the pack, but was overhauled the following day and eventually finished 12th.
Porte helped Froome to victory last year and, along with Kiryienka and Lopez, will have a key role to play in the climbing sections.
Zandio and Nieve are also seen as climbing specialists while Pate and especially Eisel will be expected to push the pace along in the flat and cobbled sections.
Brailsford admitted leaving out Wiggins was "a very, very tough decision".
He told Sky Sports News: "In elite sport, selection of a team is one of the most difficult parts, there's no doubt about it.
"Bradley's been a great champion, is a great champion - he's been fundamental to the growth of cycling in this country.
"But my job is to look at the best probabilities to try to win, to picture somebody on that podium with the yellow jersey on the Champs Elysees and work back from there.
"You look at the riders you've got and think who's the best placed to try and win, then you build a team based on evidence, based on logic - you try to take the emotion out of it.
"A star team will always beat a team of stars. I think that's really important."
Wiggins has suggested he may have to leave the team if he is to race in the Tour again, and he will race in the Commonwealth Games for England this summer.
But Brailsford is not ready to close the door on a man who also has seven Olympic medals including four golds.
"On this occasion, Bradley will miss out," he said. "But it's one race, there's still the future and there's a lot more racing in Bradley."
England's Commonwealth Games chef de mission Jan Paterson and cycling coach Shane Sutton are delighted to have Wiggins available.
"His addition will be a real morale boost to the rest of the track squad," said Sutton in a Commonwealth Games England media release.
"The decision of who will ride what event will be made nearer the time."
Paterson added: "It's hugely exciting for the team, the sport and spectators that they'll be able to see one of our finest athletes back in the Velodrome for the first time in a number of years."
Brailsford described Froome as "the best stage race rider in the world" but also singled out the key attributes among his supporting cast.
Labelling Porte as a future team leader, he said: "Richie will win a grand tour in his own right - who's to say he can't win this year's Tour de France? If he hadn't got ill earlier in the season he'd have led the team in the (Giro d'Italia)."
Thomas completed last year's race despite a fractured pelvis and Brailsford said: "He's a dream to have on the team, this guy is unbelievable - if you want commitment and suffering, this is your man."
Eisel's race intelligence and Kiryienka's power will also be vital.
"Bernie's our road captain," said Brailsford. "Bernie's absolutely brilliant at positioning the guys in the right place and making tactical decisions when people are attacking - do they chase or not? He's an absolute superstar in that sense.
"Kiry has one of the biggest engines in the sport. If we need to chase down a break and really work hard as a team, you need guys like Kiry."
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