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Froome and Thomas aiming for Tour de France success in 2019

Credit: PA

Team Sky are set to go into what could be their final Tour de France with two leaders as four-time winner Chris Froome and defending champion Geraint Thomas both confirmed they will target the race in 2019.

Froome will not defend his Giro d'Italia title as he seeks a record-equalling fifth Tour crown, but will face a challenge from within as Thomas also plans to be in France having won the race for the first time in July.

Both riders have said they want to deliver success on the road in order to help Team Sky secure new sponsorship, with the decision of broadcaster Sky to end its investment in the sport after 2019 leaving the team with an uncertain future.

Froome admitted it was a difficult decision not to defend his Giro crown after becoming the first British winner of the Italian race last May, but he has his eyes on the record of five Tour titles jointly held by Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain.

"I'm getting to the point in my career now where I'm starting to think about what kind of legacy I want to leave behind and if I am able to win the Tour de France for a fifth time and join that very elite group of bike riders - only four other people have ever done that - it would just be incredible," the 33-year-old said.

That will leave Sky with two leaders in France in July, with Thomas keen to defend his title before turning his attention to the time trial at the world championships in Yorkshire in September. He too will miss the Giro.

"The main goal for me will be to go back to the Tour de France for the best result I can," the Welshman said.

"Maybe if I hadn't have won the Tour in 2018 I might have looked at a Giro/Vuelta programme but, having won the Tour, I'll have the number one on my back and it would be sad not to go back and not to go back at 100% as well.

"The year will be geared around that, but I'm also looking forward to a slightly different programme as well, and obviously after the Tour, the Worlds in Yorkshire will be massive."

With Thomas and Froome focused on the Tour, Sky will hand team leadership for the Giro in May to 21-year-old rising star Egan Bernal, who finished 15th at the Tour in July in his first season at WorldTour level.

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Thomas signs a new three-year contract with Team Sky

Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas has signed a new three-year contract with Team Sky. Credit: PA

Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas has signed a new three-year contract with Team Sky.

The British squad announced that the 32-year-old will stick with the team he joined from their inception in 2010, until 2021.

Thomas told teamsky.com: "I'm pleased it's sorted - and delighted to be staying with the team."

Page 2: 15:37The announcement was made ahead of the final stage of the Tour of Britain, which Thomas has been riding this week.

The Cardiff rider has long been a key lieutenant for Team Sky, but succeeded Chris Froome as Tour champion in July as he realised his own potential in the sport's biggest race.

"It really is one big happy family where my relationship with Team Sky is concerned, so I couldn't be more delighted," Thomas added.

"It's been a great journey for me with Team Sky and obviously the last few months have been crazy.

"It's working really well for me here and I'm excited about what's still to come."

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Froome and Thomas included for Road World Championships

Credit: PA

Reigning Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas and four-time Tour winner Chris Froome have been named on Great Britain's long list for the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck next month.

Team Sky duo Froome and Thomas, who between them hold all three Grand Tour titles at present, are on the long list for both the men's road race and the time trial.

The road race squad also includes twins Simon and Adam Yates, and British national champion Connor Swift.

Sisters Alice and Hannah Barnes are on the list of the women's road race and time trial, while Dani Rowe - who won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in April - is listed for the road race.

The routes for both road races promise to be tough, with the men's route including over 5,000 metres of climbing in a 265km course around Innsbruck. The women's race uses much of the same route but is 162.5km long.

"This year's road world championship course is one for the climbers, and I'm pleased to see we have so many talented British riders selected for the long list whose strengths match the nature of the course," British Cycling performance director Stephen Park said.

"I'm particularly thrilled that Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Simon Yates have made themselves available for selection this year, having made our country so proud in the three biggest races of the calendar."

The under-23 men's squad includes team pursuit world champions Ethan Hayter and Charlie Tanfield, while junior cyclo-cross world champion Ben Tulett is in the junior men's squad. Pfeiffer Georgi headlines the longlist for the junior women's races.

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