Breaking News: Bradley Wiggins signs four year Sky deal

The Times says it’s a done deal – we’ll believe it when we see it

by Simon_MacMichael   December 10, 2009  

Bradley Wiggins Tour de France TT 2009, Annecy (Photosport Intl)

It’s been the transfer story that has gripped British cycling fans over the last few months – and now it has reached its conclusion, Bradley Wiggins is leaving Garmin-Transitions to ride for Team Sky in 2010 Wiggins has signed a four year deal to ride for Sky.

Announcing the signing, Dave Brailsford, Team Principal of Team Sky, said; “Brad will be at home in Team Sky. It is the perfect fit and he will be a marquee rider for us.
“He is an exceptional athlete - a great performer at a great age. And he will get better still. At Team Sky he can continue to develop, surrounded by some of the coaches and performance experts who have worked with him for years as part of the British Cycling set-up. With his experience he will help us to develop our great young talents too.

“Brad was a real revelation at this year’s Tour de France, has been hugely successful for British Cycling and his Olympic success has brought wide recognition. His presence will not only help us on the road but with the wider aims of inspiring people to not only follow the team but to get out and ride, whatever their age or ability.”

Bradley Wiggins said; “It has been an amazing year for me and my ride at the Tour has given me the drive to aim even higher. I know I can continue to develop and Team Sky is the perfect place to make that happen.

Bradley Wiggins continued “I agree with Dave that moving to Team Sky is like coming home. I’ll be on a British team with management and coaches who have shaped me as a rider. They are instrumental in my achievements so far and I know they are critical for the next part of my career.

“Team Sky has huge ambitions, not just for the team but for cycling and inspiring the public to ride. It’s an amazing project and the next four years will be very exciting. I’m really looking forward to meeting up in the New Year and preparing for our first season.”

Speaking at this morning's press conference where he was officially unveiled, Wiggins was clearly relishing the prospect of working under Brailsford, the pair having first worked together ahead of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and tellingly described moving to Team Sky as "coming home."

Wiggins said that the team ethos would be the same as that which has propelled the GB track team to sweeping success at Olympic and World level in recent years, adding that Team Sky was the only outfit he would have left Garmin-Transitions for, and saying: "This team wants to be the biggest, the best and the most admired team in the world... to be part of that from the start is very special."

Brailsford added that the team's goal was to get all riders to be the very best they could be, and in a signal that the key target for the season will focus on cyling's biggest race, said, "the very best Bradley Wiggins can be is very close to the top of the TDF podium."

On Sunday, we reported that Wiggo was staying at Garmin for 2010 – but last night strong rumours began circulating that the British rider would be unveiled today  at the press conference in London, and an updated invite sent to the press confirmed the Wiggins signing. Four days is a long time in sports politics.

First news of the deal broke last night when, Jeremy Whittle of The Times  reported that Team Sky’s signing of Wiggins was expected to be confirmed at today’s press conference, with the rider negotiating a salary of more than €1 million a year for the next three seasons, more than three times what he has been earning at Garmin.

The signing will give Team Sky the general classification rider it currently lacks, and will hopefully secure it entry into next year’s Tour de France where Wiggins would be looking to build on his surprise fourth-place finish this year.

There's no news yet though, on the fate of Ben Swift, the Katusha rider who has also been a Team Sky target in recent weeks and who as we reported yesterday was inadvrtently named by Tour Down Under organisers as a member of the British outfit's line-up in the race when it makes its debut in January.

Bradley Wiggins has performed for six road teams since he turned professional with the Linda McCartney team in 2001. He moved to Francaise des Jeux in 2002, Credit Agricole in 2004, Cofidis in 2006 – where he came 4th in the London prologue of the Tour de France - Team High Road in 2008 and Garmin-Slipstream in 2009.

He has been a World and Olympic champion on the track and in 2004 became the first British athlete in 40 years to win three medals at one Games. Two of his three Olympic Golds came at the 2008 Games in Beijing where he won the Individual Pursuit and was part of the world record-breaking Team Pursuit line-up.

This morning, we asked Garmin-Transitions for their reaction to the news, and they are clearly disappointed at losing the rider: "Bradley Wiggins will not be racing for Team Garmin-Transitions in 2010," said a team spokesperson in a statement. "Although we understand his strong desire to be a part of the UK’s first-ever ProTour team, we would have loved to continue with him through 2010. His departure is not the outcome we hoped for."

The statement continued: "That said, Team Garmin-Transitions has an incredible group of riders assembled for the season. As always, we have worked hard to build a team that will be competitive throughout the year. The team features Christian Vande Velde who was 8th overall in the 2009 Tour after significant injuries; including five broken vertebrae; sprint sensation Tyler Farrar, David Zabriskie, David Millar, Dan Martin and other outstanding athletes that we’re fortunate to work with.

"In addition to the great new talent we have signed including Johan Van Summeren and Jack Bobridge, we have renewed our partnership with Garmin and added Transitions and POM Wonderful to our family of sponsors. And we’ve expanded our sports science program to include some of the best sports scientists in the world. We will continue to give our fans many reasons to cheer in 2010 and we look forward to exciting racing in the months to come," it concluded.

Wiggins is the 25th rider to be secured for Team Sky. He will now be one of seven British riders - with Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings, Pete Kennaugh, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard and Russell Downing – in an international line-up. Alongside them are; Davide Vigoni, Dario Cioni, Morris Possoni [all Italy], Edvald Boasson Hagen, Kurt Arvesen, Lars Petter Nordhaug [Norway], Chris Sutton, Simon Gerrans, Mathew Hayman [Australia], Sylvain Calzati, 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] and Serge Pauwels [Belgium].
 

15 user comments

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I'm past caring. It will do wonders for his bank balance but I'm not sure it will make him a better rider.

Darned if I do…

Mr Sock's picture

posted by Mr Sock [152 posts]
10th December 2009 - 0:17

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Its certainly not gripped me, I don't give a jot about Sky.
In fact I do not see them being a good thing for road cycling.

demoff's picture

posted by demoff [344 posts]
10th December 2009 - 1:49

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I agree with the above posts...Wiggo has it made at Garmin, for this season at least. I want to believe he want to get on the podium in paris but with sky I just dont see it happening.

At garmin he has vandevelde, millar, zabriskie et al all willing to nail themselves to the cross for him. Who has he got at sky of that calibre willing to do the same?

Like has been said, will do winders for his bank balance (though im not sure he needs the money) but may not do the same for his legacy.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
10th December 2009 - 9:32

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It certainly has gone on a bit… and it's not over quite yet

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4136 posts]
10th December 2009 - 9:37

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It is now…

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4136 posts]
10th December 2009 - 9:49

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Sounds a good deal for Sky and I'm sure Wiggo wants to be a part of their journey from the start. But Garmin had a good year, could have really pushed on next season, especialyl getting behind Wiggo.

At least the story has given cycling some good publicity over here.

AndyyK's picture

posted by AndyyK [40 posts]
10th December 2009 - 9:49

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Yawn! I was interested in this story a few months ago, but it has dragged on worse than a football transfer. Partly backed up by the sky-Murdoch rag that is The Times.

I agree with the post above -- I don't think the Sky team will be as strong as Wiggins needs. Remember how vandevelde helped him on the big mountains, how Millar dragged the train along until the foot of a climb to keep the pace high. I don't see where that strength is coming from?

posted by othello [279 posts]
10th December 2009 - 10:19

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Am I alone in being quite excited about the prospect of a high quality British road cycling team, but also deeply uneasy about it being funded by Sky/Rupert Murdoch? What will happen to free television coverage of cycling? Will it be like cricket, where Sky poured loads of money in but fewer people get to see it?

Cycling needs lots of exposure, not just loads of money and if the money comes at the expense of exposure it's not a good deal for cycling in my opinion. Even though I love cycling (and cricket), I'm very reluctant to pay for a Sky package because I think that the company is too right-wing, pro-USA and anti-Europe.

Mike
-------__0
--- --- \_ \¬
------ (+) / (+)______ better by bike!

Mike McBeth's picture

posted by Mike McBeth [73 posts]
10th December 2009 - 12:02

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Well said Mike, that's pretty much exactly the way I feel about it too. Plus I'm also uneasy about Dave Brailsford saying they wouldn't be trying to sign riders under contract to other teams, er and that's exactly what Wiggins was.

hammergonewest's picture

posted by hammergonewest [105 posts]
10th December 2009 - 12:22

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tony_farrelly made a really good point about this the other week. Sky are not doing this (at least not initially) because they want to televise cycling on Sky. They are doing this so Sky is advertised on a wide variety of TV networks, to increase sign-ups and brand recognition.

Sky gets its name on the Beeb through its sponsorship of track cycling. Eurosport coverage of the team = Sky getting its name everywhere without having to pay for TV ad slots. Plus getting the Sky brand on many European TV networks for the TdF.

posted by othello [279 posts]
10th December 2009 - 12:49

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othello, arent you concerned that the cynical beeb and perhaps itv as well will reduce the already paltry coverage it gives road racing because it will clearly be advertising a rival station?

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
10th December 2009 - 12:55

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Ed Hood made a good point recently regarding how Sky have gone about recruiting:

Quote:
On the track, you don’t really need to make friends and the GB steam roller has certainly flattened all opposition on the boards.

But the road is different, friends are essential, irrespective of how fat your cheque book is; whilst there are few presents in pro road racing, you have to have allies, or at least have as few people as possible who’ll want to chase you down at inopportune moments....

Before a wheel has been turned in anger, Sky are now in a position where two powerful teams – Garmin and Katyusha – will do them no favours and go out of their way to stop the English team from winning.

See http://www.veloresults.co.uk/2009/12/how-not-to-win-friends/

posted by kilotango [7 posts]
10th December 2009 - 15:25

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Do you not think he sounds like a footballer after a protracted saga when they proclaim a childhood love of the team they have just signed for.

Chuckled reading the report when they mention Team and Contract do they actually know what the words mean, I do know they understand money.

I am looking forward to seeing the other Teams ride against them. As has been said Garmin and Katusha are powerful teams with allies and who else have sky upset along the way that we do not know about.

demoff's picture

posted by demoff [344 posts]
10th December 2009 - 17:22

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No, I don't think he sounds like the footballer proclaiming a childhood love for the team he's just singed for. He's going to a team run by the people he trusts most, with who he won 3 olympic gold medals.

Although I don't like Sky, the company, their putting money into cycling has made a bit more positive about them. As for Team Sky, the cycling team, I'm really excited about following their progress in the 2010 season. We should, at the very least, have a record number of British cyclists to follow in the Tour de France.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1337 posts]
11th December 2009 - 9:51

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cat1commuter wrote:
No, I don't think he sounds like the footballer proclaiming a childhood love for the team he's just singed for. He's going to a team run by the people he trusts most, with who he won 3 olympic gold medals.

I agree with you re: Wiggy's motives. That doesn't stop the whole affair from being shabby and a little disappointing. A contract should be a contract, riders shouldn't be free to pick and choose when they will or won't abide by it's terms. Sportsmen are usually quite happy to quote contract when it suits them (usually when money is involved). I hope he does well, but Garmin have good reason to feel more than a little pissed off.

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posted by Chuffy [184 posts]
12th December 2009 - 22:35

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