Bradley Wiggins celebrated his racing debut for Team Sky today as he led the squad to victory in the opening team time trial of the Tour of Qatar.
Resplendent in the UK National Time Trial Champion’s colours, the double Olympic Individual Pursuit champion helped drive his team-mates to a time of 9 minutes 41 seconds on an 8.2km circuit of West Bay Lagoon, beating Cervélo TestTeam and Garmin-Transitions, who both finished eight seconds down to tie for second place.
Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, also wearing national champion colours, crossed the line first and will therefore wear the race leader’s jersey in tomorrow’s first stage.
The victory was cheered by the British outfit’s riders and support staff as last team out, Quick Step, crossed the line 20 seconds down to confirm Team Sky’s win.
Today’s success is a strong statement of intent from Team Sky, coming a fortnight after CJ Sutton secured its first ProTour win in the final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under.
Besides Wiggins and Boasson Hagen, the team is represented at the race by Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Russ Downing, Juan Antonio Flecha, Lars-Peter Nordhaug, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas.
Afterwards, Senior Sports Director Scott Sunderland told TeamSky.com: "It's a great start and technically we did everything right.
"I knew that if we did everything right then we'd go really close and that's how it turned out.
"Every little detail was covered - from the warming up, examining the wind conditions, scouting the course and looking how we would handle different corners - basically all the different technical parts which make a difference,” he added, reflecting the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ ethos that has underpinned Team GB’s World and Olympic success on the track which Team Sky is now putting into practice on the road..
"We also spent a lot of time discussing the order of the riders and it then all comes down to the physical aspect so it was great to see we had enough horsepower. Every single rider played their part and it was fantastic to see," he concluded.
Some of the gloss was taken off the win, however, folowing news from Italy that Franco Ballerini, Italian national coach and twice Paris-Roubaix winner, had been killed in a crash during a rally where he was acting as navigator in Larciano, Italy, with Wiggins saying that the victory "had been overshadowed by the death of a great champion".
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.