Like many of his contemporary road professionals, Stannard developed in the British Cycling Academy and first tasted success on the track, where he won the team pursuit at the 2006 UEC Under-23 European Track Championships with Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy and Andy Tennant.
Having won the Milano-Brusetto race and gained experience on the road as a trainee with the T-Mobile Team in 2007, Stannard rode for Landbouwkrediet-Tonissteiner in 2008 and came to prominence with a third place overall finish at the Tour of Britain, as well as gaining valuable experience in the early-season Classics.
That progress continued with ISD Cycling Team in 2009 when, aged just 21, Stannard was selected to ride the Giro d’Italia which he managed to finish, before being selected to join the newly-formed Team Sky the following year.
Stannard’s prowess in the Classics was again obvious in Sky’s debut season as he placed third at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne before gaining valuable stage race experience in tours such as Luxembourg, Austria, Poland and the Vuelta a Espana, which Team Sky withdrew after seven stages due to the tragic death of team soigneur Txema Gonzalez.
The 2011 season almost brought Stannard victory at the famed Gent-Wevelgem one-day race, as he was narrowly beaten by Tom Boonen inside the final 500 metres, and did bring his first professional victory, on stage five of the Tour of Austria. A successful year also ended with him playing a key role in the eight-man team that helped Cavendish win the UCI World Road Race Championships, where Stannard’s vital efforts in the closing stages helped secure a famous win in Copenhagen, Denmark.
There would be no repeat of that success at London 2012, as Cavendish missed out on contesting the road race medals, but the year was still a success for Stannard as he won the British Cycling National Road Race Championships from Alex Dowsett and was prominent in the closing stages of the UCI World Road Race Championships, eventually finishing 35th. Stannard’s durability was also highlighted by the fact that he raced 14,892 kilometres over 92 days - both career highs - during the year.
The 2013 season saw Stannard perform heroically at Milan-San Remo where he initially supported Geraint Thomas but, after his team mate crashed, made an attempt to win the race himself, eventually finishing sixth behind winner Peter Sagan.
He also made his debut at the 100th edition of the Tour de France and, yet again, played a significant support role as team mate Chris Froome won the event for the first time. Other highlights of the year included a strong defence of his national road race title, a race he finished second behind Cavendish, and top 10 overall finishes in stage races the Tour of Britain - where he helped Sir Bradley Wiggins to victory - and Bayern-Rundfahrt and the one-day Dwars door Vlaanderen.
The following year brought Stannard his biggest success to date, and also a major frustration due to injury. Having started the year well, with a fourth overall at the Tour of Qatar, Stannard became the first Briton to win the Flanders Omloop Het Niuewsblad but a heavy crash soon after, at Gent-Wevelgem, left him with fractured vertebrae.
Having attempted a comeback five months later, riding for England at the Commonwealth Games but failing to finish, Stannard showed his form was returning in helping team mate Ben Swift win the RideLondon-Surrey Classic and took the start line at the Tout of Britain only to break his wrist on the opening stage.
Normal service was resumed by a fully-fit Stannard in 2015 as he placed fourth at the Tour of Qatar then defended his title at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after showing amazing tactical acumen to beat three rivals from Etixx-Quick Step in the closing stages of the race.
Having won the team time trial at the Tour of Romandie and finished third behind Pete Kennaugh and Cavendish at the nationals, Stannard was again a key component of the Team Sky squad that helped Froome win the Tour de France for the second time in three years.
Following a different schedule in 2016, Stannard passed on the opportunity to defend his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad title, focusing instead on the famous Flemish Cycling Week, a decision that almost paid off with third-place podium finishes at E3 Harelbeke, behind victorious team mate Michael Kwiatowski, and Paris-Roubaix.
In June 2016, after he had helped Froome win the Tour warm-up event the Criterium du Dauphine, it was announced that Stannard would ride the Tour de France and Olympic Games road race in support of Froome.
Having played a key role in the third Tour triumph for team mate Froome, Stannard then turned in a typically hard-working effort in helping Froome and Thomas to top-12 finishes in the Rio road race.
Away from the bike
A keen all-round sportsman as a youngster, Stannard gravitated towards cycling via an interest in traithlon. Having taken up cycling properly at the age of 11, Stannard started riding with the Team Keyne club in Milton Keynes, the youth club that also helped develop Hannah Barnes. Team Keyne coach Bob Varney remains the biggest influence on Stannard’s career.
A fan of James Bond movies and dance music, Stannard spent a summer riding for a Dutch junior team at the age of 16, first attracting the attention of British Cycling.
Known throughout the cycling world by his nickname, Yogi, Stannard claims he would have become a policeman or a fireman had he not succeeded in professional cycling.
|UEC European Track Championship, Athens (Greece)||Under-23 men’s team pursuit||Gold|