Froome backing Team Sky
Chris Froome believes he will launch the defence of his Tour de France title in Leeds alongside the best Team Sky squad ever assembled - even without Sir Bradley Wiggins.
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The 29-year-old will be supported by Richie Porte, Bernhard Eisel, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Geraint Thomas and Xabier Zandio over the next three weeks, with Wiggins' non-selection a disappointment to his legion of fans.
Froome was adamant he had no role in the omission of Wiggins, the 2012 champion, from Team Sky's nine-man squad for the race, which begins in Leeds on Saturday.
"Just to make it absolutely clear, I do not have a role in selection," said Froome, who has had past disagreements with Wiggins.
"I do speak to (Team Sky principal Sir) Dave Brailsford about generally the group of guys I've been racing with, but, if you look at how a Tour team is generally selected, the guys doing a Tour will be doing altitude camps together, racing together as a group.
"The team that I have got around me, I would say it is probably the strongest team that Team Sky has fielded at the Tour de France.
"We are ready for this. I know each and every one of us are going to give it our absolute all for the next three weeks."
Froome, fit following a crash during last month's Criterium du Dauphine, admitted Wiggins' selection would have had an impact.
He added: "It would definitely change the dynamic of the team having Bradley on the team, but that's bike racing."
Wiggins famously exploded with a foul-mouthed rant in 2012 when he was questioned about doping at the end of his first day in the yellow jersey.
Froome had to deal with brickbats and continual questions over his performances in winning the 100th Tour last summer and his arrival in Yorkshire coincided with the news that his friend and former team-mate Daryl Impey had tested positive for Probecenid after February's South African Championships.
Kenya-born, South Africa-schooled Froome said: "It was quite shocking this morning to have the news about Daryl, someone I know really well.
"That is massive news in cycling (and) it's always harder when you know the person on a personal level.
"I did send him a message when I found out. I just said I was really shocked to read the news. And I hope things get resolved.
"Obviously I don't really know the details of the case. I don't know if it is something that can be resolved on his side or if it is 100 per cent definite.
"Knowing Daryl's character - he has always been very outspoken against doping - so it is a big shock to me."