Bradley Wiggins' Team Sky move confirmed
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bradley Wiggins' Team Sky move confirmed

by Conal Andrews at 5:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

As anticipated, Team Sky has announced that it has signed triple Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins to its squad, with the 29 year old agreeing a four year contract starting in 2010.

This year Wiggins equalled Britain’s best ever Tour de France finish when he placed fourth overall in the race, and he is clearly the best current candidate to fulfil the team’s ambition of winning the Tour de France within five years.

“It has been an amazing year for me and my ride at the Tour has given me the drive to aim even higher,” he said at today’s press conference in London. “I know I can continue to develop and Team Sky is the perfect place to make that happen.”

Team Principal Dave Brailsford said that he was delighted to confirm the signing, following months of rumours and repeated denials by his Garmin Transitions team that the rider would be able to break his contract. “Brad will be at home in Team Sky. It is the perfect fit and he will be a marquee rider for us.

“He is an exceptional athlete - a great performer at a great age. And he will get better still. At Team Sky he can continue to develop, surrounded by some of the coaches and performance experts who have worked with him for years as part of the British Cycling set-up. With his experience he will help us to develop our great young talents too.”

Wiggins has worked with Brailsford and the rest of the British Cycling setup for many years as part of its track team. He won the gold medal in the individual pursuit at the Athens Olympics, then defended that title last year in Beijing. He also won gold in the team pursuit, and has taken several world championship titles.

“I agree with Dave that moving to Team Sky is like coming home,” he said. “I’ll be on a British team with management and coaches who have shaped me as a rider. They are instrumental in my achievements so far and I know they are critical for the next part of my career.”

Today’s news follows denials in recent days by Wiggins that he would be leaving Garmin Transitions. "Once we get into January, and it's apparent I'm still with Garmin, everything will settle down,” he said in recent days. However he previously made it clear that he wanted to transfer to Team Sky, and is rumoured to have been given a multi-million pound deal to race with the team for four seasons.

His Garmin Transition team – which helped transform him into a Grand Tour contender – stated repeatedly that it didn’t wish to let him move before the end of his contract. He had a two year deal which was due to run until the end of 2010.

It issued a short press release today, and implied that the move was not its choice. “Bradley Wiggins will not be racing for Team Garmin-Transitions in 2010,” it reads. “Although we understand his strong desire to be a part of the UK’s first-ever Pro Tour team, we would have loved to continue with him through 2010. His departure is not the outcome we hoped for.”

Changing direction:

Wiggins turned professional with the Linda McCartney squad in 2001 and has changed teams several times since then. He transferred to Francaise des Jeux in 2002, Credit Agricole in 2004, Cofidis in 2006, Team High Road in 2008 and Garmin-Slipstream in 2009.

He had taken some solid results in the Tour de France prior to this season, including fourth in the London prologue in 2007, but this year was the first time that he had shown the ability to climb well in the high mountains and to contend for a Grand Tour title.

At today’s press conference, he said that he would do what he could to win the race. “We will see how things go. Results aide, the aim is to be as good as possible. A lot goes into winning the Tour de France but it won’t be for want of trying.”

Brailsford reiterated that, saying that the team and Wiggins will work closely and strive for top success in the race. “My hunch is that with Bradley in the best shape possible, he can go very close to winning the race.”

Apart from chasing the first ever British victory in the race, the team also has the wider aim of inspiring others to take up the sport and, in time, to lead to a substantial increase in the number of world-class riders in the country.

“Brad was a real revelation at this year’s Tour de France, has been hugely successful for British Cycling and his Olympic success has brought wide recognition,” said Brailsford. “His presence will not only help us on the road but with the wider aims of inspiring people to not only follow the team but to get out and ride, whatever their age or ability.”

Wiggins echoed this. “Team Sky has huge ambitions, not just for the team but for cycling and inspiring the public to ride. It’s an amazing project and the next four years will be very exciting. I’m really looking forward to meeting up in the New Year and preparing for our first season.”

He is the 25th rider to be secured for Team Sky, and will join Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings, Pete Kennaugh, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard and Russell Downing as the Britons there.

Ben Swift is also being chased, and the team will hope to prise him away from the Katusha team. Like Garmin did, it has said that it had an existing contract and doesn’t want to let the rider go. The days and weeks ahead will show if Katusha resists Sky’s big push.

Team Sky for 2010:

British riders: Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings, Pete Kennaugh, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard and Russell Downing.

Others: Davide Vigoni, Dario Cioni, Morris Possoni [all Italy], Edvald Boasson Hagen, Kurt Arvesen, Lars Petter Nordhaug [Norway], Chris Sutton, Simon Gerrans, Mathew Hayman [Australia], Sylvain Calzati, Nicolas Portal [France], Thomas Löfkvist [Sweden], Kjell Carlstrom [Finland], John Lee Augustyn [South Africa], Juan Antonio Flecha [Spain] Michael Barry [Canada], Greg Henderson [New Zealand] and Serge Pauwels [Belgium]

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