Launched today, Sky’s the limit for new ProTour team
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Monday, January 04, 2010

Launched today, Sky’s the limit for new ProTour team

by Conal Andrews at 6:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

The crowds have gathered, the riders are ready and the launch is currently taking place in London. The new Team Sky is being unveiled today in Britain’s capital, and it aims to make a serious impression on pro cycling in its first year of existence.

Forget learning as it goes; this team wants to hit the ground running, to start winning early and keep going right until the end of the season.

In advance of today’s launch, several key people involved with the project have given their thoughts on the new set-up and the year ahead. The sentiments are a mixture of excitement, optimism, hope and determination, and its clear that the team wants to get started as soon as possible.

For British fans, Bradley Wiggins will be the big one to watch in 2010. He finished a completely unexpected fourth in last year’s Tour de France and is determined to improve upon that result. The 29 year old feels that he is in the right place to do that, and is convinced that the team is going to raise the standard.

“The goal is different, the kit is different, but the team is the same [as for his track achievements],” he said in video released by Sky today. “It is really exciting to be back going for a different goal but with the same team around me.

“For us as British riders, I think it is quite special, especially having a sponsor like Sky. The kudos and everything that goes with it, the class that goes with it, right down to the kit…it’s something that hasn’t been seen in Pro cycling before.”

He is one of eight British riders on the squad; another is Ben Swift, who has completed a late move from Team Katusha. Wiggins thinks that identity will be important, but that the other riders will play an equally vital role in the team’s success.

“For me, British through and through, it is quite special,” he said. “But in terms of the team and the performance, I think that the passports really don’t matter. Dave [Brailsford, team principal] was quite interested in going out and constructing 25, 26 riders who are the best out there.”

One of those set to excel in 2010 is Edvald Boasson Hagen, the Norwegian phenom who has won races such as stages of the Giro d’Italia, Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Britain despite being just 22 years of age. He’s known as a modest individual and that certainly came through in his comments. Make no mistake, though: he’ll certainly be a big force this season.

“We have done a lot of training and it is a good team as well. It think we can do a lot of good races,” he said. “Hopefully I will be as good as last year, but I cannot promise anything. But it would be great if I could get some good results. You always want to try to win more and more.”

Australian rider Chris ‘CJ’ Sutton is, like Wiggins, one who has moved from the Garmin Team. He is one of the designated sprinters for the year and will be part of its hit-squad for the flatter races. He spoke about the pressures facing him, then articulated his confidence that Team Sky can deliver against the very best in the sport.

“You have got to have no fear. If it is my day for the sprint, if I am going for the win, my team-mates ride on the front all day. They sacrifice themselves for me to give me the easiest ride for the sprint,” he said. “I have got to have no fear, I just don’t think about it. I just go out and do it, I just do my best and I hope it is good enough for them… It is hard for me to describe [the last] 500 metres, because I am just in the zone and I am just going for it. Before you know it, it is over, done and dusted.

“Mark Cavendish is the best sprinter in the world, everyone wants to beat him,” he continued. “You have got to believe in yourself to do that. On any given day, I am sure any sprinter could [do that], but Mark Cavendish has got a great team around him.

“We are not going into a race just to say that we are going there to beat Mark Cavendish or we are going there to beat Thor Hushovd; we are going there to win, and if we beat those guys doing it, we are going to succeed.”

Team principal Dave Brailsford will be part of an important support backup which will aim to help the riders to do just that. Boasson Hagen may prefer the softly, softly approach, but Brailsford is the opposite; he has said that the main goal is to win the Tour de France with a British rider within five years, and continues to aim high in his latest statements.

“We have got a mission. We really do understand what it is we are trying to do here in the medium and long term,” he explained. “Therefore we wanted riders who could fit that mission. It is unlike the national team where your cards are dealt and you have to deal with what you have got. In this instance, you can deal with what you want to go out and buy…if they are available.

“We want to be one of the best sports teams ever. We have got a group of guys now together; our challenge now is to make those guys really bond into a team and make every single one of them perform to the best of their ability. I think if they do that, we should see some good results.”

‘Good results’ include, he hopes, a victory in the Tour. “Somebody has got to be the best, why can’t it be us?” he asks. “There is no point in being involved in the world of elite sport if you are not going to go for the biggest event in the sport you are in. If we can get all our riders to be the absolute best they can be, then I don’t see any reason why their best won’t be enough to win the Tour de France.”

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Team lineup (26 riders)

British (8):

Bradley Wiggins
Geraint Thomas
Steve Cummings
Peter Kennaugh
Chris Froome
Ian Stannard
Russell Downing
Ben Swift

International Riders (18):

Davide Vigoni (Italy)
Dario Cioni (Italy)
Morris Possoni (Italy)
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)
Kurt Arvesen (Norway)
Lars Petter Nordhaug (Norway)

Chris Sutton (Australia)
Simon Gerrans (Australia)
Mathew Hayman (Australia)

Sylvain Calzati (France)
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)
Serge Pauwels (Belgium)


(lineup source: New.Britishcycling.org.uk)

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