IN THEIR FIRST column, the team at LK Bikes look forward to the 2016 season, one that might offer Letterkenny’s professional cyclist Philip Deignan a first opportunity at the Tour de France.
As we kick off a new year, we look forward to the big events of the road cycling calendar. This year might be more exciting for us than previous years as hopes arise that our local man Phillip Deignan may be ridding the tour this year.
Deignan has never ridden the Tour de France but Team Sky’s first big selection of the year puts him in the hunt for the French showdown this time around. Team Sky has been revealed Chris Froome has extended his contract with the squad until the end of the 2018 season and they have already reviled its Giro d’Italia line-up.
The big news from an Irish perspective is that neither Nicolas Roche nor Deignan have been included in the list of 10 men – to be reduced by one as the race in May draws nearer.
Roche had the role of road captain during last year’s Tour. He would be expected to fill a key role again this time so that means the team was unlikely to put him into the Giro first for fear of wearing him out.
Deignan’s exclusion to the Giro line-up is more surprising as he has performed well in the race in the past. He rode the event in his first season with Team Sky in 2014.
And when its intended designated leader, Richie Porte, was withdrawn from the line-up before the race started attacking opportunities opened up for Deignan. The Irishman went on to finish third in the mountains on stage 18 that year.
However, Deignan was not included in the team’s Giro plans for last year either, increasing our hopes at the time he was being rested with a view to riding the Tour, despite enjoying some fantastic form he was not selected. Unfortunately he broke his elbow in a crash at the National Road Race Championships in Omagh the weekend before the Tour De France.
Deignan also crashed last month at a training camp and broke his elbow again, which has interrupted training again but, that mishap does not fully explain his omission from the Giro line-up.
He crashed and broke his collarbone in France in February, 2014, and still went on to ride the Italian event three months later when it began in Belfast.
If he can get back into top form in the months ahead and show himself as one of the team’s strongest climbers as he has done in the past, his crash and omission from the Giro team may well put him in the hunt for the Tour this time around.
Team Sky’s Line up for the Giro include new signing Mikel Landa, Leopold Konig, Sergio Henao, Beñat Intxausti, Sebastian Henao, world TT champion Vasil Kiryienka, Ian Boswell, David Lopez, Christian Knees and Elia Viviani.
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