Steeton-born Thwaites on short list for place in Tour de France team

TOUR BID: Scott Thwaites knows his way around the Tour de France course in Wharfedale Picture: SWpix

SUBMITTED PIC - CREDIT Jonathan Pow Pro rider Scott Thwaites (far left), with from left, Adam Evans (from JD Cycles) & from Yorkshire Cancer Research Dr. Mark Sutherland, Liz Hills, Adam Tasker, Taras Stephenson, Susan Richman, Professor Phil Quirke

HOME RUN: Scott Thwaites knows his way around the Tour de France route Picture: SWpix

First published in Sport

Scott Thwaites' hopes of riding in the Tour de France in his native county soared when he was included in the 14-man squad from which his team will select their final line-up.

NetApp-Endura are set to compete in the event for the first time when it starts in Leeds on July 5 and over the next four weeks the team management will choose nine riders who will tackle the world's top cycle race.

Thwaites, who was born in Steeton, knows the course the Tour de France will take through Wharfedale well as it is a popular training area for him.

The 23-year-old, who is in his second season with the NetApp-Endura team, and Sam Bennett are the only two racers in the 14 who have nor previously ridden in the Tour de France.

Thwaites, said: "This is one step and I am pleased to be in the 14. We have 21 riders so it is good to know I have a chance.

"The team for the Tour de France is going to be announced after our next two races. I am racing in the teams that will be taking part in the Criterium du Dauphine and that will be my selection race, while another team is racing in Slovenia. I hope I can do enough to win one of the nine places."

If Thwaites is selected he will attract a lot of attention as a Yorkshire rider competing in his home county.

“That has been my dream but I know my next race is crucial. It is a selection race and I want to do my best.

“The Tour de France is not likely to come to Yorkshire again during my racing career so I want to win a place in the team.”

Thwaites knows that the Criterium du Dauphine will be a tough test and is viewed by the top riders as a warm up for the main event.

It was won in 2011 and 2012 by Sir Bradley Wiggins and last year Team Sky’s Chris Froome took the title in his build up to his Tour de France win.

Froome is back to defend his title in a field that is expected to include former champions Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) are also pencilled in for the eight-day event which starts with an individual team trial in Lyon on June 8.

This year’s route looks particularly taxing with lots of climbing so it will be a real test of strength and endurance for the riders.

Competing against the world’s top riders is something Thwaites is getting used to. He has just returned from North America where he was 80th in the Tour of California which was won by Wiggins.

Thwaites was struck down by illness at the start of the race but battled through to the end despite not being at his best.

“I was disappointed to become ill at the start of the race. I had a cold and it left me feeling a bit drained.

“It was a demanding race so I was pleased that I managed to complete all of the stages despite not being 100 per cent.”

He took a couple of days rest when he returned home to Yorkshire before heading out over the hills and roads that will become the focus of so much attention in July.

“I want to build up my fitness and be right for the Criterium du Dauphine. It is my selection race and I want to be in the best shape possible” said Thwaites.

“I have been pleased with how things have gone this year and I have learned a lot, I just hope I can win a place in the team. Riding in Yorkshire in front of huge Yorkshire crowds will be a dream come true.

NetApp–Endura have enjoyed their most successful start to a season in its team history, which means it is optimally prepared for the Tour de France.

In addition to two victories, the team has already scored 11 further podium spots. "We're on a very good path. During the classics, the team showed that we have clearly improved in that area.

"At the stage races, we always gave top performances and we were contenders for good results," says Ralph Denk, Team NetApp – Endura's team manager.

With just six weeks to go before the start of the Tour de France, the team's goal is clearly defined. "We're aiming for a stage win and a Top15 position in the General Classification. Our goals are realistic and the entire team is already feeling self-confident because of that," Denk added.

The final squad depends in large part on how team captain Leo König continues to improve. "Selecting nine riders is not easy for us because at the moment we have a very broad spectrum on the team," said Denk.

"Leo is the team’s leader and his condition will determine what our Tour squad looks like. If he's in top shape, then he'll be given the full support of the team.

"On the other hand, if his preparation is further compromised by his knee problems, we’ll adjust our tactical plans. And that will have an impact on the squad. But the last couple of weeks have shown that the team can convert even that into results."

NetApp Endura squad: Jan Barta, Cesare Benedetti, Sam Bennett, Iker Camano, David de la Cruz, Zak Dempster, Bartosz Huzarski, Leopold König, Tiago Machado, José Mendes, Andreas Schillinger, Daniel Schorn, Scott Thwaites, Paul Voss

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