Vaughters holds no malice for Wiggins, but doubts he’ll win the Tour
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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Vaughters holds no malice for Wiggins, but doubts he’ll win the Tour

by Ben Atkins at 9:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France
 

Garmin-Transitions manager Jonathan Vaughters was disappointed, to say the least, to lose Tour de France fourth place Bradley Wiggins to the new British Team Sky over the winter. Losing Wiggins could have spelled the end of the team, says Vaughters in an interview with Jeremy Wittle in the Times.

“It’s sad that my faith in him during the first year didn’t mean enough to him for him to stick it out,” he said, referring to the fact that Vaughters was one of the first to see Wiggins’ potential as a potential Tour contender. “But then I don’t know what his motivations are.”

Wiggins’ departure could have had far more serious ramifications for Garmin though, with everything depending on Tour de France participation. Team Sky were willing to compensate his team, but reportedly surprised at the value that Vaughters put on his British star.

“If losing a key athlete cost us our place in the Tour, and because we weren’t in the Tour we lost the title sponsor, what’s that worth?” he asked rhetorically. “Twenty million? Thirty million? It’s a domino effect. Losing Wiggins could have taken down the house.

“If I was cantankerous this could have been a year and a half off Brad’s career, because he was in court. That would have been the worst-case scenario, but it was possible.”

Instead of which, Vaughters accepted the inevitable, and a sum that’s rumoured to be in the region of £4 million.

As soon as the formation of the new British team was announced, it was obvious that Wiggins wanted to be part of it, says Vaughters. “We talked in August and he’d made it clear what was in his head,” he said. “But we didn’t speak again until Christmas. He was upset at some of the reaction. I said: ‘I’m upset that you didn’t want to stick it out with me.’

“I think he thought, ‘what’s the big deal, Jonathan?’ But as much as I like Brad, my first responsibility was to the sponsor and the team.”

Despite the slightly acrimonious manner of the transfer though, Vaughters says there’s no hard feelings. “He’s a unique personality,” he said, “I don’t hold any malice for him.”

2009 Tour was good for Wiggo, 2010 won’t be

Despite Wiggins’ fourth place in the 2009 Tour de France, and the fact that this time around he is building his entire season around the race, Vaughters feels that his former rider won’t have things his way so much come July.

“The 2009 Tour route was suited to Brad,” he said, “but 2010 is less so. In 2009, the tactics worked in his favour and Astana were soft-pedalling a bit to not embarrass Lance [Armstrong]. And Brad is very good at a flat stage that has a big hill at the finish and we saw a lot of that in 2009.”

Vaughters also wonders whether Wiggins, who is often impatient and impetuous with the media, both verbally and on his Twitter page, can handle the increased pressure of Tour contender in the build up to the race.

“He doesn’t deal well with criticism,” he said, “so we felt the best approach was to pull him out of the limelight as much as possible. But there is no bigger pressure than the Olympics and Brad seemed to deal pretty well with that.”

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