SCOTT Thwaites is thrilled to be making his Tour de France debut after being named in Team Dimension Data’s line-up for the world’s toughest race.

The Burley-in-Wharfedale rider joins sprint king Mark Cavendish and fellow Englishman Steve Cummings in the South African team.

Thwaites’ impressive seventh-placed finish at the weekend’s National Road Race championships, on the Isle of Man, appears to have rubber-stamped his spot in the race, which starts in Dusseldorf this weekend.

For the 27-year-old, it is just reward for his consistency, versatility and much-improved climbing.

As he prepared to fly off to join his team yesterday, Thwaites said: “I had known for a while that I was in line for a ride but it was still exciting when the full roster was announced.

“I had some good performances in the Spring and they certainly helped get me on the team.

“I expect to be used primarlly as a support rider for the sprints where we will be hoping to get some stage wins for Mark Cavendish.

“There are a number of sprints before we hit the mountains where I expect my role to change. It is possible I will be encouraged to go with a breakaway.

“It is going to be tough, but I want to see just how far I can get. To finish the entire race at the first attempt would be amazing.

“Obviously, I will be taking it one day at a time. As a support rider my main function is to do whatever the team require of me.”

Thwaites should certainly be well prepared for the challenge after a national race he described as “absolutely brutal.”

He said: “I made all the moves but ran out of legs in the last few laps.

“Still, I am happy with seventh place, especially as Steve Cummings won.”