Team Sky. A force for evil ??

by May Sports Images   September 20, 2012  

Is it just me, or is anyone else getting a little uneasy about Team Sky?

This is the first season that Team Sky have really dominated and already there's a building resentment from within the Peleton. Sour grapes? Well maybe, but I can see where the similarity with US Postal came from. Money is the new drug! Everyone wants to see the best rider win but when one team has so much more than the rest you have to question whether that's happening. I don't wish to take anything away from Wiggo's achievements this season. Absolutely awesome. But would he have achieved those results with any other team? I don't know.

The one thing I do know is how much I resent Sky turning our National Squad into their own trade team. I was lucky enough to photograph the World Track Cup at the Olympic Velodrome back in February (pics on my website). Now it's not uncommon to have advertising sponsorship on National vests these days but to see SKY emblazoned on Team GB's skin suits EIGHT times was beyond a joke! Money talks it appears. They say hindsights a wonderful thing so look at what Skys money has done to the landscape of Football in the last 20 years!

23 user comments

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They're not the richest team though, BMC have more resources apparently, and there's a few others with more too.
Sky are extremely good at focussing on goals and achieving them. Marginal accumulation of gains and all that.

posted by bashthebox [647 posts]
20th September 2012 - 14:27

3 Likes

I think it's too early to tell in terms of the pro tour. Actually they've only 'dominated' the TdF so far. Nothing in the Giro and a 4th place at the Vuelta where Sky didn't dominate any stages.

I know what you mean though. As great as it was to see Brad win the Tour and by gawd it was great. It was hardly an exciting episode and the similarity with the US Postal team is uncanny. I don't really want to see another tour like the 2012 TdF even if Brad wins again.

Interestingly, at the Vuelta where Sky weren't really in contention from around Stage 8, the racing was superb and the constant attacks were what we watch cycling for.

Let's hope that we don't see Sky become the 'Evil Empire' because cycling will be the poorer for it.

g1deonian's picture

posted by g1deonian [17 posts]
20th September 2012 - 14:29

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Sky domination is a bit of a myth. They dominated this year's Tour de France and the Dauphine, but in 3 years they have won 1 Grand Tour and have almost no results of any note in the classics.
I'm sure there are other teams with as much money or more such as BMC, Katusha and RSNT, but Sky use their resources better.
I don't think it is healthy for any sport for one team to become too dominant, but I don't think Sky are yet. My main worry is that they were set up to help bring through the best British talent, but after 3 years only 1/3 of the team is British with 2 of them probably leaving at the end of this season.
Would Wiggo have won the Tour on another team? Probably not which is why Froome will probably not leave either. He knows his best chance of a Grand Tour victory is with Sky.

posted by NeilG83 [260 posts]
20th September 2012 - 14:58

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The budget thing is a bit of a red herring if you look into it. According to Team Skys official accounts they only employ 3 people!! All their riders and support staff etc are listed as "contractors" which means their wages aren't counted in the figures and Sky's wage bill alone is more than the total budget of many Pro teams. Costs such as the £2mill+ they paid to buy out Wiggo's and Swiftys contracts aren't counted either.

posted by May Sports Images [7 posts]
20th September 2012 - 15:10

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Team Sky won't dominate, not in the way that Man Utd have done in the Premier League or Australia did for many years in the Cricket.

That's because at the minute they have a core of excellent GC riders but no really good classics riders, to win classics they'll need to move some funds away from GC towards one day riders which will harm their tilts at grand tours. Limited to 25ish riders they can't have the depth of talent they need to attack all of the different competitions and even if they did, only one rider at a time can win for Sky, the other 24 aren't winning and if they think they're good enough to win they'll go elsewhere.

The likes of Porte, Uran, Henao, Froome, Cavendish, Nordhaug (who's already gone), EBH etc may all decide that they'll have a better chance winning races in a lesser team built to help them win than by being 2nd or 3rd fiddle in the best team.

Those factors (plus the fact that no team has limitless funds) will mean that there will always be competition and no team can really be dominant. Even US Postal only dominated one race, I don't remember them controlling the other grand tours or classics like they did the TdF.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
20th September 2012 - 15:27

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But no other team has ever bought their National Squad lock stock and barrel. I don't recall any other team paying £2 million to buy a rider out of his contract either? I was glad to see no mention of them on the Olympic vests but I'd wager it wasn't for the lack of trying!

posted by May Sports Images [7 posts]
20th September 2012 - 15:27

1 Like

I see the OP's point, but I think the fact that a global (non-cycling) company is getting so much media exposure is good for the sport - it demonstrates to other big companies that sponsorship is viable and provides returns.

The TdF could have been more exciting admittedly (although I may have imploded had I been any happier about Wiggo) but that's largely down to Wiggo's personal riding style - he's a tempo rider and that's what the strategy was built around. He's not going to be their number 1 forever.

As for US Postal, I think there is still a difference at the top end. Lance's team used to kill everyone, only to be followed by Lance launching an attack that made his team's pace look like a walk in the park for him. Brad's boys use a similar team time-trial approach, but there's no big solo superhuman effort, and no disguising that they're all cooked at the end of it, Brad included.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3475 posts]
20th September 2012 - 15:30

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I could see Wiggo winning something like Paris Roubaix if he could fit it into the Grand Tour schedule. He came out the other day and said he wants the Giro because he's happy with one TdF title, so that might work. They've also got Flecha who's finished in the top 10 of Roubaix 6 times in the past.

Clearly they've realised they can't achieve the impossible dream of going for Sprint and GC in the Grand Tours so the obvious choice would be to spend Cav's wages on a one day classic rider. Boonens probably got a couple of good years left in him!

posted by May Sports Images [7 posts]
20th September 2012 - 15:45

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May Sports Images wrote:
But no other team has ever bought their National Squad lock stock and barrel. I don't recall any other team paying £2 million to buy a rider out of his contract either? I was glad to see no mention of them on the Olympic vests but I'd wager it wasn't for the lack of trying!

The £2 million is just a guess, isn't it? The terms haven't been revealed by either side.

Any sponsors logos at the Olympics are severely restricted by the IOC.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
20th September 2012 - 15:52

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I think the OP is overreacting a bit. It's a cycling team, not the Iranian government or a Russian tank regiment. And it's not the only well-funded team in the pro peloton.

I don't particularly like the sponsor or the Murdoch empire but I'm very happy that Brad won the Tour etc. I think it's irrelevant whether he could have done it with another team and anyway you could always ask him what he thought of Cofidis after the 2007 Tour...

If you have an issue with Sky then why not put some positive energy into supporting someone you do like?

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2059 posts]
20th September 2012 - 15:59

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No, its not a guess. It's in the teams official accounts for all to see.

And thank the lord for the IOC. Obviously have some morals, unlike the UCI.

posted by May Sports Images [7 posts]
20th September 2012 - 16:00

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Hmm, i tihnk the OP should cool his jets a little. Its a british team doing well, isnt that enough or would he prefer not to have a British TdF winner. As people have said and i agree i dont think Wiggins would have won in another team.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
20th September 2012 - 18:31

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the thing I don't like about them is the way they have to be the best at little things, like making sure they have the biggest most expensive team bus at the Tour. It makes them come across as quite arrogant and self important in my opinion.

posted by jamjam [61 posts]
20th September 2012 - 20:42

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The Sky road team, have just been putting into practice what Brailsford, Boardman and their mates have been doing on the track for 12 years or more.

I think it's that Brailsford etc had the vision to transfer that to the road, and that Sky were brave enough to put up the cash.

I would love to see other UK based and managed protour teams.

Next year I would not be surprised to see Wiggo go for the Giro. Sky and Cav to go for green in the TDF and Froome to try again in the vuelta.

DB knows and I suspect always knew that Yellow and green in the TDF was too big an ask for one team. I also think that he's too canny not to think that Cav would be unsettled as a superdomestique and occasional stage winner, The guy wants green and quite possibly to win the most TDF stages of anyone. Think Sky will reshape for the tour around Cav next year.

posted by gazza_d [273 posts]
20th September 2012 - 20:50

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All the Sky haters should just group together and put £5 each to an underfunded, poorly run Pro-Continental team of middling riders led by a blinkered, old skool DS/manager. They won't have to worry about their proud 'rooting for the underdog' position getting corrupted by the riders or the team being seen as arrogant, overly ambitious in their goals, having a big team bus or, god forbid, anybody actually winning a race.

(not that I'm against underdogs; far from it!)

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2059 posts]
20th September 2012 - 21:48

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g1deonian wrote:
I think it's too early to tell in terms of the pro tour. Actually they've only 'dominated' the TdF so far. Nothing in the Giro and a 4th place at the Vuelta where Sky didn't dominate any stages.

I know what you mean though. As great as it was to see Brad win the Tour and by gawd it was great. It was hardly an exciting episode and the similarity with the US Postal team is uncanny. I don't really want to see another tour like the 2012 TdF even if Brad wins again.

Interestingly, at the Vuelta where Sky weren't really in contention from around Stage 8, the racing was superb and the constant attacks were what we watch cycling for.

Let's hope that we don't see Sky become the 'Evil Empire' because cycling will be the poorer for it.

I'm certainly with you all the way on your comments above^ I couldn't have put any better myself!

TDF was good for us Brit's, but, the Vuelta was the most exciting tour racing this year. Thank goodness for ITV4.

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
21st September 2012 - 8:09

1 Like

Simon E wrote:
All the Sky haters should just group together and put £5 each to an underfunded, poorly run Pro-Continental team of middling riders led by a blinkered, old skool DS/manager. They won't have to worry about their proud 'rooting for the underdog' position getting corrupted by the riders or the team being seen as arrogant, overly ambitious in their goals, having a big team bus or, god forbid, anybody actually winning a race.

(not that I'm against underdogs; far from it!)

Ha ha, Sky seem to sitting on thir Laurals! Tour of Britain springs to mind. What a sky fiasco.

I was one of sky's supporters for the TOB and predicted a Sky Team win plus jersey's. What a let down.

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
21st September 2012 - 8:16

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jamjam wrote:
the thing I don't like about them is the way they have to be the best at little things, like making sure they have the biggest most expensive team bus at the Tour. It makes them come across as quite arrogant and self important in my opinion.

Yeah, they should turn up in a beaten-up battle bus with peeling graphics.

Somehow I don't think DB or anyone else there is having a dick-swinging contest over the size of the bus.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3475 posts]
21st September 2012 - 8:39

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Mostyn, personally i think the Sky team could have won the race. You saw on one stage where they blew everyone away and no one could live with the pace they set.

I'm sure, had they wanted to, they could have done the same on a few other stages with the likes of Euskaltel and Liquigas helping, but what would have been the point ? it would'nt have proved anything and the semi pros would be less than happy.

As it was they did their bit and won a couple of stages and the fans got to see Wiggo and Cav in his rainbow stripes.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
21st September 2012 - 8:54

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I don’t think Sky do dominate? They did dominate the tour and a few week long stage races in the lead up. They have built a strong gc team mainly from taking on a couple of fallen stars and getting them back to their best. But Liquigas dominated the Giro, no-one dominated the Vuelta but Saxo were defo stronger than Sky. In the TOB Sky always disappoint, and that’s a small race no-one else really cares about!

Cav has nicked a few victories but Greipel and Kittel have probably been more dominant.

Sky have no monuments to their name, Omega Pharma dominated the classics.

Its reckon partially because we live in the UK it seems like its all about Sky, like in the worlds TTT Eurosport banging on about Sky being a favourite then they were poor. I bet if we watched Dutch TV they would be talking about how Rabobank would be a force!

posted by Manx Rider [18 posts]
21st September 2012 - 9:01

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Manx rider is right, I was over in Holland last weekend. Endless Rabobank jerseys/team stripes and the Dutch commentators jabbered on endlessly about Rabobank's junior/women and pro team. So much so I think they would have missed the other TTT finishing if it was not for the American guy getting excited everytime a rider came into view at the finish. Oh and not mention the 100's of metres of Rabonbank advertising and the Orange House Hospitality "tent".

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [344 posts]
21st September 2012 - 12:10

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For the record I don't hate Team Sky and no one was prouder than me when Wiggo won the Tour. I just have concerns about what Skys huge financial investment did to Football, because one thing is for sure, they're not pouring money into cycling for charitable reasons!

And is it only me that dislikes the fact they've turned our National Squad into another trade team?

posted by May Sports Images [7 posts]
21st September 2012 - 13:51

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the whole bit about the bus is a red herring too. i have been on many tour buses that are pretty similar in spec and they don't cost that much. most of the teams could have that if they wanted.
is there such a thing as a worthy sponsor. given the olympics were sponsored by mcdonalds and cocacola so it doesn't bother me that it's sky.
i just find it very interesting that money doesn't automatically buy you results.
i also think the tdf is so preprogrammed to not allow too many incidents of interest, whereas the vuelta was quite the opposite and look what happened. its unfair to judge sky on that as they backed froome who was clearly suffering after a long hard season.
i also loved the tob as i think it showed what can happen when you get less experienced riders in and they go random on you. see luke rowe. great potential for the future.

posted by roly [43 posts]
21st September 2012 - 14:07

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