Is the Sky the limit?

by jimmythecuckoo   February 27, 2009  

British professional cycling entered a new era this week (no, not Tony Gibb's haircut and the Plowman Craven team launch!!) when "Team Sky" was launched.

The principle being to take the winning formula of "Team GB", mainly on the track, and turn it into a road based squad capable of winning the Tour de France.

The national newspapers were mentioning names such as Steve Cummings and Bradley Wiggins coming in to lead the team, but Dave Brailsford (Team GB Performance Director) was a bit more coy mentioning the possibility of continental based pros being part of the roster.

I happen to think this is the right way of doing it. The nearest a British trade team (so not national squad) has come to Tour success was the ANC Halfords squad which had some experienced overseas riders within its ranks. How ever dominant we are in the velodromes, I don't think we could get beyond 5 names in creating a balanced squad to get results on the road to Paris...

It's not going to stop me having a stab though !

Team Leader - David Millar (Ambition- Top 20 GC, stage win)
Sprinter - Mark Cavendish (Ambition- stages, Green jersey)
Time Triallist/Rouleur - Bradley Wiggins (Ambition- Prologue, 1st Week Yellow Jersey)
Domestiques - Charly Wegelius (but his dubious history with British Cycling may keep him out), Steve Cummings.

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Okay, Jimmy I think you can scratch three out of that five. Pretty sure David Millar owns a slice of Garmin Slipstream so he isn't going to be riding for anyone else, and Cavendish is no great fan of British Cycling either - which possibly also goes for some of the other British pros who've never been part of the Performance Plan set up but who have quietly made their ways into some of the Pro Tour teams.

Wegelius is probably a non-starter too, which is a shame because he is just the sort of super-domestique the team will probably need. The name I would throw into the ring is Liam Killeen - I remember talking to a very knowledgeable guy a few years back (not British) who picked him out as a potential Tour winner - based on his off road performances. Trouble is, he's just signed a deal with Trek so if Team Sky wanted him he'd have to be one for the future.

I don't doubt that they can find the talent, with the necessary skill-set and V02 Max, (they must have data on an awful lot of young British riders) to do the job, but I don't think the team will have too many famililar names in it - to start with, British ones anyway.

 

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4135 posts]
27th February 2009 - 13:51

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I would have added Jonny Bellis, but I believe he is on a two year deal with Saxo Bank.

You are right about Millar.

Cav seems to blow hot and cold with BC at the moment. All was forgiven over the Madison I remember reading somewhere recently.

Charly was very silly in that worlds in (if I remember well) Madrid. I think we all agree that Roger Hammond was a long shot for the gold medal, but for Tom Southam and Wegelius to pull on the front for the Italian team (it is alleged), not only cost John Herety his job as team manager but left a lot of people annoyed with the way they rode.

Geraint Thomas is a good shout. Froome is a bit of a Max Sciandri but we will take him! Do you think Dario Cioni will change his passport and ride for us?!

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posted by jimmythecuckoo [1240 posts]
27th February 2009 - 15:44

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… regarding Cav was that like Nicole Cooke he has always felt a bit of an outsider in the BC set up. In fact if there is one criticism that can be levelled at the way the BC does things it is that the perception exists among a lot of British road riders that BC plays favourites… if you're part of the Plan you're in, and if you're not you're out - no matter what you do. Cooke is an exception because she is a once in a generation phenomenon. That may be a problem for Sky in putting this team together… or maybe it won't.

Either way they will need to lay out some serious wedge to bag Cav because he is tied to a very lucrative long term deal with Highroad and they are very unlikely to want to let him out of it. The other theory I've heard, and I would stress it was just a theory, was that Cavendish would actually enjoy being able to stick two fingers up to British Cycling or in this case Sky…

I haven't been following his career lately but I don't suppose they'll be rushing after Dario, they could do worse than Roger Hammond though, okay, maybe he's not a man for the grand tours, but Team Sky will need to be racing more than just three races a year + the ToB. What they need more than a bunch of Brits or people with British grannies is some good solid clean pros, I'm sure they'll be able to find them.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4135 posts]
27th February 2009 - 22:37

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Hmmm, doubt that one Tony. A birdy tells me he might have signed a deal for more than a year two, and he wouldnt go the CTT (which by the way is shaping up to be one of the best in the world) without wanting to develop something there.

The one thing I hope for is the team doesnt become an extension of the Sun newspaper, and that we all get excited and start waving our Union Jacks and expect the same kind of success as the team that races around the wooden oval. Which if you think about it has about 5 competitive nations in the world.

Team Sky has one of the best DS's in the world now (I'm talking about Scott not big Dave) and if they can add similar quality riders they will be successful, no doubt, and personally I dont mind what nationality they are...

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posted by Secret Squirrel [26 posts]
28th February 2009 - 19:15

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