Lövkvist comments fuel Wiggins rumours
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Lövkvist comments fuel Wiggins rumours

by Conal Andrews at 9:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

The ongoing soap opera surrounding the 2010 plans of Bradley Wiggins continued today with the confirmation from Thomas Lövkvist that Team Sky are in negotiations with the Briton.

Lövkvist, who is moving to Sky from Columbia HTC, will today meet up with his new team-mates in Manchester prior to spending several days together on their first official team camp.

Right now, he could not predict if Wiggins will be there. “I do not know,” he told the Nettavisen newspaper. “I do not know if things will be more clear when we arrive in Manchester. The only thing I know is that there are ongoing negotiations.”

Over the weekend Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters confirmed the worst-kept secret in pro cycling, namely that Sky have been pushing hard to sign the Briton, who was himself trying to leave. He finished fourth in this year’s Tour de France and would be a huge draw for the team, which is set to be the first-ever British ProTour squad.

It has set a goal of winning the Tour with a home rider within five years. This summer, Wiggins clocked up the best British result in over two decades and so he is seen as the rider most likely to achieve that objective.

Sky has been rumoured to be chasing the multiple Olympic champion for months, even though he has no buy-out clause in his contract.

That agreement runs until the end of 2010 but with some high-powered lawyers representing the team, it has been pushing hard to secure his signature.

For its part, Garmin has been keen to hold on to the Briton, particularly after it was unable to sign defending Tour champion Alberto Contador to the squad. The American team was in negotiations with the Spaniard since earlier this year, and this is something which may have contributed to Wiggins’ desire to leave.

However Contador has now indicated he will stay with Astana, providing it keeps its ProTour licence for 2010.

The whole situation has caused much uncertainty in cycling, with several teams unable to finalise their rosters due to the various negotiations that were going on. Lövkvist was originally seen as the likely Sky team leader in the Grand Tours next year, but that would clearly change if Wiggins does arrive.

The Swede told Nettavisen that he could see plusses and minuses. “For me personally it constitutes a big difference if he comes or not. There are reasons both for and against.

“If he signs, he will have to take the bigger responsibility in the Tour de France. All eyes will be directed at him, and it can give me a quieter journey. On the other hand, I will not get to ride for myself to the same extent.”

Fellow Scandinavian Edvald Boasson Hagen also said that there was a great deal of uncertainty. “We will probably know more this week,” he said, echoing the feeling of many within the cycling world.


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