Published: 26 June 2013
Ian Stannard is confident Team Sky and Great Britain colleague Chris Froome can accomplish his ambition and win the Tour de France as the ‘overwhelming favourite’.
Stannard will make his debut in the Tour, which starts on Saturday in Corsica, supporting leader Froome who is aiming to become only the second Briton to win the event after Sir Bradley Wiggins’ triumph in 2012.
Having aided Froome to victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné, Stannard has observed his teammate's abilities in person ahead of the zenith of their season.
“Chris is really on form at the moment and he proved as much at the Dauphine,” Stannard, 26, told TeamSky.com.
“That was my first race with him this year and I was really impressed with what I saw. It wasn’t just his ability on the bike, but the confidence he exuded, and the way he led the team.
“The Dauphine is always a good indicator of the condition of the GC contenders and Chris has proved he’s the strongest rider heading into the race. It’s going to be great to support him and we’ve all got full faith in his chances of success.”
In spite of Froome’s comprehensiveness, 2012 British road champion Stannard concedes that his notable form in 2013 will make him a marked man in the 100th edition of the Grand Tour.
“It’s going to be hard riding for Froomey given that he’s the overwhelming favourite,” British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider Stannard said.
“The other teams will all be looking to put one over on us but we’ve got big ambitions of our own and we’re all ready to race.”
Stannard’s selection completes a clean sweep of Grand Tours for the robust domestique having rode the Giro d’Italia at just 21 and completing the Vuelta a Espana in his second appearance in the race in 2011.
Over the 21 stages concluding on the 21 July he will be required to be at his paramount, tasked with preserving Froome and his Team’s Sky colleagues on the flat and in the process charge the opposition with keeping pace.
“I’ve got two jobs - work hard and then work even harder [laughs],” said Stannard, who finished second to Mark Cavendish at the British Road Championships in Glasgow.
“I’m not going to give anyone any rest and I’m looking forward to hurting some other teams by drilling it hard on the flat.
“That’s going to be my main role, keeping the breakaways in check and protecting the rest of the team leading into the climbs. Once the road goes uphill, it’ll be a matter of hanging on for dear life, but my role at that point will be done.
“I’m super excited about it and I can’t wait to get going. I don’t really know what to expect if I’m honest. You always hear about how massive it is and how fast and stressful the racing is, so I’m keen to see what it’s like.
“I’ve watched the Tour de France all my life and it’s a dream come true to be riding in the race.”