Category: Team Sky

Bradley Wiggins: ‘I’d have had more rights as a murderer … I only asked for a fair trial’ | Donald McRae

The former cyclist says doping allegations have devastated his family life but cannot taint his love for the sport and reveals he still talks to Lance Armstrong but not Dave Brailsford

“People ask me now, ‘Are you Bradley Wiggins?’ and I always say, ‘I used to be,’” the former cyclist explains with a painful little smile as his famous old name slips from his mouth. “It’s funny because I do it to everyone in this book. When I met Miguel Induráin he got embarrassed. I don’t like it when people do it to me. I say, ‘I’ve moved on. He’s gone now, that person.’”

The book is called Icons. It’s rather beautiful and an intriguing blend of cycling history and personal snippets which offer insight into Wiggins’ contradictions. The “proper nerd” he used to be, as a cycling-obsessed teenager living on a Kilburn council estate, shines through some endearing pages about the bike riders who consumed him when he fell for a brutal and complicated sport.

Related: Geraint Thomas: ‘Ideally, Froome would ride for me but that’s not possible’

Cycling means the world to me and I’ve gone back, no chains attached. No political correctness

Related: Tour de France 2019 plans show organisers still hope to curb Team Sky | William Fotheringham

There’s a lot more going on than I alluded to this summer. I can’t prove any of it yet … I’m carrying on with my life

Induráin is described as the perfect gentleman. You could find him in bed with your wife and he’d give you a hug

Related: Chris Froome undecided over defence of Giro d’Italia on ‘explosive’ course

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Chris Froome undecided over defence of Giro d’Italia on ‘explosive’ course

• Team Sky rider undecided following announcement of route
• Decision rests partly on Froome’s desire to win Tour de France

The Giro d’Italia champion Chris Froome said he is still undecided about riding in next year’s edition but added that the start of the 102nd route, announced on Wednesday, looked explosive.

The Team Sky rider became the first Briton to win the century-old race in May, and was briefly the first cyclist in 35 years to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time.

Related: Geraint Thomas: ‘Ideally, Froome would ride for me but that’s not possible’

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Thomas says Sky management favored Froome in early TDF stages


In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian Tuesday, Geraint Thomas provided some insight on the backroom dynamics at Team Sky during the 2018 Tour de France.

The Welshman admitted that at times he was frustrated to not have the full support and protection his team gave to defending champion Chris Froome. However, he said that any slights during the race never impacted his close friendship with Froome.

“The biggest thing with Froomey was that it was never awkward,” Thomas told The Guardian.

Heading into the 2018 Tour with Froome’s Salbutamol case still up in the air, Sky was expected to give Thomas full backing as GC leader. Then, mere days before the Grand Depart, Froome was cleared.

Thomas was slated to be the second leader behind leader Froome, but from the outset, Thomas was Sky’s top GC rider following a crash that cost Froome time in stage 1. Team management had to make some decisions about which rider would be backed as the outright leader, and that didn’t always sit well with Thomas.

Ahead of the stage 3 team time trial, Thomas was informed that the team would only wait for Froome in the event of a flat tire, although he was 51 seconds behind Thomas in the overall.

“[I] sat there and stewed,” Thomas told The Guardian. “That’s a bit s—t. F—king hell, guys, could you really not wait for me?

“I was frustrated because I thought I was also a protected rider. But it’s not a decision they took lightly. They would have thought about it and debated it.”

Thomas didn’t let frustration distract him from the race, though. He said he let it slide and carried on racing all the way to Paris, where he claimed his first yellow jersey. Froome ended up third to Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).

Thomas took yellow on the 11th stage to La Rosière and defended the lead throughout the rest of the race. Thomas told The Guardian that Froome did not abandon his ambitions to win the race during the later stages. Froome twice informed Thomas of his intentions to attack in the mountains.

“I guess that’s a good example of not racing against each other because he told me openly he was going to do it,” Thomas said. “If he’d been made to ride for me, people could now say: ‘Froomey could have attacked that day. Maybe he could have won.’ But it shows I was stronger. It worked out well in the end.”

Although Froome was unable to tie the record of five Tour de France GC wins in 2018, Thomas said his erstwhile leader was genuinely happy for him.

What does that mean for the 2019 Tour? Froome was unwilling to draw a line in the sand when queried after the Tour route was announced. In his interview with The Guardian, Thomas said, “I’d love to win it again.” However, the reigning Tour champion looks at the team dynamics realistically. He doesn’t expect Froome to sacrifice his chance at history, and given Froome’s loyalty at the 2018 Tour, it seems likely that Thomas will return the favor.

More details of the 2018 Tour are expected to be detailed in Thomas’s forthcoming book, “The Tour According to G,” out November 1.

Read the full article at Thomas says Sky management favored Froome in early TDF stages on VeloNews.com.

Commentary: The Tour route is another effort to cage Team Sky


Editors’ Note: Author Samuel Abt was a long-time sports journalist and columnist for the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. He covered the Tour de France and other professional cycling events for more than 30 years. A resident of the Paris area, Abt retired several years ago. 

The guy up on the stage is the impresario Carl Denham, just back from Skull Island. Behind him, as the photographers go wild with their flashbulbs, is a gorilla. In fact, he’s a giant gorilla. Luckily for everybody, he’s in shackles.

“Don’t be alarmed, ladies and gentlemen,” Denham says, “those chains are made of chrome steel. Stay in your seats. Nothing can break them.”

Oops.

This familiar scene from “King Kong” flashed through my mind earlier this week when Tour de France owner ASO revealed the route for the 2019 edition. Playing the role of Carl Denham was Christian Prudhomme, the Tour de France majordomo, as he showcased the route at a gala in Paris.

And that gorilla wasn’t King Kong, it was Team Sky.

You’ve no doubt seen the movie in one of its three major iterations, (the 1933 original with Fay Wray is by far the best), so you know what happens once Kong, unhinged by the hoopla, breaks loose and goes, um, ape. Will a similar fate befall the Tour de France and its attempts to shackle Team Sky?

In an unspoken way, that script dominated Prudhomme’s presentation. Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, and now Geraint Thomas — as British riders for Sky — keep winning the race. The race’s popularity at home wanes. The organizers hope to tame the beast. What better way than with a course designed to produce, oh happy day, the first French winner since 1985.

The candidates are Julian Alaphilippe, Romain Bardet, and Thibaut Pinot and they exhibit the same strengths and weaknesses: strong climbers all, they often fizzle in time trials, although Pinot has made huge progress there.

Not by chance, there will be seven climbing stages in 2019, five of them with summit finishes. The sole individual time trial will cover a mere 27 kilometers. And Bardet gets a cherry atop his cupcake: The stage on Bastille Day, the French national holiday, finishes in his hometown of Brioude.

Far more rounded than the local heroes are the two Brits (les rosbifs, as they are known to the French) who lead Sky, Thomas and Froome, who finished first and third this year.

Thomas flew up the mountains and is the British time trial champion. Froome has won the Tour four times. Sort of Kong-like, no?

With its $35 million budget, Sky is also hatching the next generation of King Kongs. That rider starting to thump his chest is Egan Bernal, all of 22 in January and the winner at home in Colombia of the mountainous Oro y Paz and the national time trial championship.

Add in a stage victory and second overall at the Tour de Romandie and the overall victory and two stages at the Amgen Tour of California. Plus, he had a strong performance in the mountains of the Tour, where he finished 15th overall. Bernal signed a five-year contract with Sky this fall.

An even-younger prodigy with the team is Ivan Sosa, 21 at the end of October, another strong Colombian climber, who will join next year if his contract can be worked out. His potential is considered so vast that, in a rare bidding contest, Sky had to top Trek for his services.

In the here and now, if the new Tour route favors the French, so do the favorites’ ages. Thomas will be 33 next year and Froome 34, a worrisome factor if the race is fiercely hot or rainy. Alaphilippe will be 27, Bardet 28, and Pinot 29.

Alaphilippe might be favored among them after his performance this year: victory at the Flèche Wallonne and Clasica San Sebastian, overall titles at the Tour of Britain and Tour of Slovakia, two mountain stages at the Tour and the polka dot climber’s jersey.

Still, he finished a lackluster 33rd in the Tour and eighth in the world championship road race in which he was the big favorite. While he blamed leg cramps in the worlds, some wondered how well he handles the pressure of being “The Man.”

Bardet had a good season, too, with second in the worlds, third at the Critérium du Dauphiné behind Thomas’s victory, sixth overall at the Tour, second at Strade Bianche and third at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Pinot did not race in the Tour because of illness but finished sixth overall at the Vuelta a España, where he took two stages, and won Milano-Turino and then the Il Lombardia. Earlier in the year, he finished first in the Tour of the Alps and had four podium finishes on stages at the Giro d’Italia.

Sky is not the trio’s only obstacle. Tom Dumoulin, 28, was second this year. He should be strong again in the climbs and time trial. Richie Porte, 34, may finally overcome his injury-illness-misguided team strategy hex. To cover all bases, throw in a Central European contender or two, the stray Italian or Spaniard or Australian or a hitherto unknown third Yates brother. It doesn’t look easy for the French.

This is not the first time the Tour organizers have stacked the deck for one of their own in a blatant attempt to cage a monster rider. Tour organizers did it two decades ago to support Richard Virenque, a climber who never made it into the final yellow jersey because of Bjarne Riis, Marco Pantani, and an earlier King Kong — well, maybe Godzilla — Miguel Indurain, who won the Tour five times.

Indurain finally succumbed to age and the smart tactics of his rivals. King Kong was done in by incessant attacks by airplanes and machine guns.

In any case, according to Carl Denham, “No, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”

Who is beauty in this scenario? With the wispy mustache he sometimes sports, Alaphilippe doesn’t look fetching enough.

Read the full article at Commentary: The Tour route is another effort to cage Team Sky on VeloNews.com.

TDF: Froome won’t say if he or Thomas should lead Sky


PARIS (AFP) — Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome was coy Thursday about whether he or Geraint Thomas would lead Sky at the 2019 edition, but said a yellow jersey would make a great 10th birthday gift for the British team.

Froome came third at the 2018 Tour de France as teammate Thomas emerged from his shadow to secure his maiden GC win after a stronger start than his erstwhile captain.

“It doesn’t matter if I am or not,” Froome said when asked if he knew if he would lead Sky’s victory bid next year.

“It could end up being similar to 2018 where I had a double role to play alongside Geraint Thomas,” said Froome.

“It’s going to be a tough, tough, tough race, that’s for sure. But if one of us could win it, it would be really special as this year is the 10th anniversary of the founding of Team Sky,” said the Kenyan-born Briton.

“There are five summit finishes and with three of the stages going over 2,000 meters, well that just changes the whole dynamic of the Tour,” added Froome.

“It’s hard but it makes for good racing.”

When asked if he would defend his Giro d’Italia title from 2018, Froome brushed off the question.

“I haven’t even seen the route for the Giro yet,” he said.

Defending Tour champion Thomas, meanwhile, was more open to the possibility of challenging for honors on the three-week Italian race.

“Racing both the Giro and the Tour is something I never thought I’d be able to do, but it is something to which I’ll now maybe give some thought,” said the 32-year-old Welshman.

“I’ll be starting to have a chat about my program with my team in the next couple of weeks and then try and formulate some kind of decision.

“Chris did it last year, so maybe,” he added.

Thomas said the 2019 Tour looked like a classic in the making.

“It’s got a bit of everything in it with some very high climbs indeed being the first thing that comes to mind,” he said

“But there are a great deal of lesser climbs too which will take their toll.

“The time trial is a bit shorter but I’m sure that it will be just as key as a longer one in the end.”

Tour de France route designer Thierry Gouvenou, said he felt Froome may be the stronger contender in 2019.

“Of the two of them I’d say Froome was better equipped on this type of route,” Gouvenou said.

“Froome remains an iconic leader for Sky, and Thomas has found his Holy Grail.’”

Read the full article at TDF: Froome won’t say if he or Thomas should lead Sky on VeloNews.com.

Englishman Ben Swift returns to Team Sky


LONDON (AFP) — British cyclist Ben Swift will return to Team Sky in 2019, the team announced Monday.

Swift joined the British squad for its launch in 2010 but left in 2016 and has spent the past two seasons riding for UAE Team Emirates.

“It’s a great feeling to be re-joining Team Sky,” the 30-year-old Swift said. “Obviously, I know the ins and outs of the team. I feel really comfortable here and it’s a place I’ve grown as a rider.”

Swift’s leading results, which include podium finishes in Milano-Sanremo in 2014 and 2016, came while he was with Sky.

Injuries slowed him down the past two seasons, although he did still manage a fifth-place finish in last year’s road world championships in Bergen, Norway while riding for Great Britain.

Rod Ellingworth, Sky’s performance manager, said the team would look to Swift to mentor the team’s young riders in addition to supporting his own aspirations.

“Ben has got a crucial role to play next season,” Ellingworth said. “He’s not only a fine rider in his own right, but he’s also a superb role model for the younger riders on the team to learn from, as we look to bring through the next generation at Team Sky.”

Read the full article at Englishman Ben Swift returns to Team Sky on VeloNews.com.

Dunbar takes advantage of Team Sky opportunity

GUILIN, China (VN) — Eddie Dunbar had plans to race in the second division in 2019, but now takes advantage of Aqua Blue Sport’s sudden team shutdown and new Team Sky contract.
 
The talented 22-year-old Irish cyclist found refuge in cycling’s biggest team when Team Aqua Blue announced its closure. In the next season, he has the chance to race alongside Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas and debut in a grand tour.
 
“I appreciate what Sky has done to give me this opportunity,” Dunbar told VeloNews.
 
“Obviously, Aqua Blue folding is disappointing. For this to all happen so quick is crazy but Sky were kind enough to get me involved, get me racing as quick as possible, to get to know the riders and staff.
 
“It’s credit to them really, it shows why they are one of the best teams in the world, it shows the care they put in for every rider and it makes the transition easier for next year.”
 
Aqua Blue’s closure put many out of work. Dunbar and others like American Larry Warbasse, who is joining AG2R, were some of the fortunate few to find teams.
 
Dunbar, from Cork, won the Under 23 Tour of Flanders in 2017 and this 2018 season, placed eighth in the Tour de L’Avenir.
 
Soon after Avenir, Dunbar heard Aqua Blue folded. But an opportunity presented itself.
 
“It’s going to be a year of learning, going from Pro Continental to the WorldTour, and one of the best teams in the world. It’s a massive learning process.
 
“I’m going to learn a lot racing with and for some of the best riders in the world. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
 
Dunbar has been unable to participate in many stage races. He wants to do so to “develop more” in the coming year.
 
“I’ve been injured a lot in the Under 23s. I missed out on quite a bit of racing, so it’s nice to finish off the season with a bit more racing in China, and hopefully next year there be a bit more on my calendar as well.”
 
Dunbar began racing in Sky’s blue and white colors mid-November in Italy’s one-day races. He closes 2018 in China’s Tour of Guangxi.
 
Given how Egan Bernal performed in his first grand tour at the age of 21, Dunbar sees all sorts of opportunities.
 
“You look at it, every year there are younger guys doing grand tours. Bernal is a year younger than me and he was in there smashing it in the Tour,” Dunbar added.
 
“Age is a number. When is too young? When is too old? No one knows. We’ll see next year.”

Read the full article at Dunbar takes advantage of Team Sky opportunity on VeloNews.com.

Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France trophy stolen from cycling show

• Trophy left unattended at NEC in Birmingham
• Thomas: ‘Hopefully they will have the grace to return it’

Geraint Thomas has appealed for the return of his Tour de France trophy after it was stolen during a cycle show in Birmingham.

The trophy, which was on loan to a bike manufacturer, was taken when it was left unattended last month at the city’s National Exhibition Centre but the theft was revealed to the public only on Thursday.

Related: Geraint Thomas eager to enjoy Tour of Britain after whirlwind month

Related: Peter Sagan webchat: your questions answered on cycling, hair and big calves

Appalling https://t.co/Bx6PRe2jO0

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Bernal signs new five-year deal with Sky


LONDON (AFP) — Highly-regarded Colombian up-and-comer Egan Bernal has committed himself to Team Sky in the long term, signing a new five-year contract on Friday.

The 21-year-old enjoyed a successful first season with the cycling powerhouse, winning the Amgen Tour of California and playing a key support role in Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France triumph.

“I’m very happy to sign a new contract with Team Sky,” Bernal said in a statement posted on the team website.

“It feels like a new stage in my life.”

Bernal’s extension will take him through the 2023 season.

“I know five years is a long time and that it’s not too common in cycling, but the team has been great for me.

“They offer me everything I could want and I’m excited about the future.”

Sky team principal Dave Brailsford said the length of the contract reflected the faith they had in Bernal’s potential.

“This is an important moment in the development of the team,” Brailsford said. “A five-year deal in cycling is exceptional, but Egan is an exceptional talent.

“We all know there is much more to come from Egan.

“He is a big part of the next generation of Team Sky, an incredible crop of young riders, alongside the likes of Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pavel Sivakov and Gianni Moscon.”

Read the full article at Bernal signs new five-year deal with Sky on VeloNews.com.

Simon Yates would not have won Vuelta with Team Sky, says Bradley Wiggins

• Former Team Skyrider speaks out against previous employers
• Wiggins: Yates deserves extra credit after Giro near miss

Sir Bradley Wiggins has claimed Simon Yates would have not have achieved his historic Vuelta success had he chosen to pursue his career with Team Sky. Wiggins believes Yates’s decision to steer clear of one of the sport’s most pre-eminent teams enabled him to storm to victory in Madrid on Sunday.

Related: Youth and potential puts Simon Yates at head of cycling’s next generation | William Fotheringham

Related: Simon Yates’s Vuelta a España win offers glimpse of world without Sky | William Fotheringham

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