Chris Froome will go up against familiar faces when he attempts to win a third Tour de France title in July, after the same 22 teams from last summer were named by race organisers on Wednesday.
The route seems perfect for Briton Froome, with individual time trials set to play a much bigger part in deciding the winner of the general classification than in previous editions. The Team Sky man edged out Colombian Nairo Quintana by 1min and 12secs last year, having also taken the 2013 title.
Froome, Quintana and Alberto Contador all look likely to line up alongside each other once more, with Sky, Movistar and Tinkoff all unsurprisingly on the team list.
“It’s a selection without surprises,” Tour general director Christian Prudhomme told AFP of a list that includes four invitees, three of them French and one German (Bora-Argon).
“Bora is a very strong team that will be in the Tour for the third time. “They have the German champion, the young Emanuel Buchmann, who did an excellent climb at Cauterets last year (he finished third) and a good sprinter in Irishman Sam Bennett,” he added.
2014 Giro D’Italia champion Quintana is expected to be one of Froome’s main challengers for the yellow jersey again this year, with the mountain finishes at Mont Ventoux and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains expected to produce exciting battles between the top climbers. For the second year in a row bonus seconds will be handed out to the top three on each stage, after seven years with no seconds on offer for stage finishes.
Teams announced by race organisers on Wednesday to contest this year's Tour de France which takes place from July 2-24:
Teams qualified through International Cycling Union rules: AG2R La Mondiale (FRA), Astana Pro Team (KAZ), BMC Racing Team (USA,) Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA), Dimension Data (RSA), Etixx-Quick Step (BEL), FDJ (FRA), IAM Cycling (SUI), Lampre-Merida (ITA), Lotto Soudal (BEL), Movistar Team (ESP), Orica GreenEDGE (AUS), Team Giant-Alpecin (GER), Team Katusha (RUS), Team Lotto NL-Jumbo (NED), Team Sky (GBR), Tinkoff (RUS), Trek-Segafredo (USA)
Invited teams: Bora-Argon 18 (GER), Cofidis (FRA), Direct Energie (FRA), Fortuneo-Vital Concept (FRA).