Team Sky announces Tour de France line-up that will support Bradley Wiggins' maillot jaune bid

Emphasis on GC not green jersey in squad including the men who helped Wiggins retain his Dauphiné title

by Simon_MacMichael   June 21, 2012  

Bradley Wiggins (Photosport International)

Team Sky has announced its line-up for the Tour de France which starts in Liège a week on Saturday and it’s one that is firmly built around Bradley Wiggins’ maillot jaune ambitions as he seeks to become the first British rider to win the race, which will see its 99th edition this year.

The nine-man team appears firmly weighted towards supporting Wiggins in the mountains rather than Mark Cavendish in the sprints, unsurprisingly given that the world champion had himself acknowledged earlier this week that winning the Olympic road race was a bigger priority than defending the green jersey he won last year.

Joining Cavendish and Wiggins are the core of the team that supported the latter when he successfully defended his the Critérium du Dauphiné title last month, which together with victories earlier this year in Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie, have seen him installed as favourite for the Tour.

Those riders – Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Rogers, Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Christian Knees and Kanstantsin Siustou are joined by Cavendish’s ever-present wingman Bernie Eisel in the nine-man team.

A full commitment to getting Cavendish to the final stage in Paris in the lead of the points classification would likely have meant the inclusion of a sprinter such as Chris Sutton or Ben Swift to join Boasson Hagen, himself the winner of two stages last year, as potential leadout men.

While the press release announcing the line-up does mention Cavendish “looking to defend” the green jersey, the make-up of the squad confirms that isn’t the priority in the three-week race, which features more than 100 kilometres of time trialling and fewer summit finishes than has typically been the case in recent years.

The former gives Wiggins an opportunity to put significant time into his rivals, while the latter limits the opportunities for some of the pure climbers who are less strong against the clock to claw time back.

“I’m really proud to be part of such a strong unit going into the Tour de France,” said Wiggins, who crashed out of last year’s Tour de France with a broken collarbone at the end of the first week.

“The team’s preparation has been perfectly managed and our form this season gives us a great chance of being successful,” he continued.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I’ll do everything I can to win the Tour de France. Hopefully we can do the business for ourselves and our fans, and become the most successful British-based cycling team ever.”

Wiggins’ exit from last year’s race came 40 kilometres from the end of Stage 7 into Chateauroux, a day on which Cavendish, then with HTC-Highroad, claimed his second stage win of the five he would take last year. His total now stands at 20, including three consecutive wins on the Champs-Elysees, where he has never yet been beaten.

"It's a dream to ride for a team that holds so much British interest and has a chance to win the yellow jersey,” said Cavendish.

“I know the push for the GC podium will make it more difficult for me to repeat the success I've enjoyed the last few years.  But I'll compete and - as always - I'll dedicate myself to making it a successful Tour for Team Sky and, let's hope, for Britain.”
  
Following the loss of Wiggins’ 12 months ago, Team Sky changed their focus to target stage wins, and one was duly delivered on Stage 17 from Gap to Pinerolo by Boasson Hagen, who had earlier won the sprint in Stage 6 in Lisieux.

“I’m really looking forward to riding the Tour. It’s the biggest race of the year and we have entered a very strong team, so it’s going to be great to be part of,” said the Norwegian all-rounder, who is likely to be assigned a key role supporting both Wiggins and Cavendish, depending on the stage in question.

“Bradley is a fantastic leader and we all have faith in him to produce a really strong ride. It’s the same for Cav, he’s the best sprinter in the world and my role will be helping them both out as much as I can,” he went on.

“If I get the opportunity to go for stage victories myself, I’ll definitely try to take them, but I have a role in the team to fulfil and anything other than that will be a bonus.”

Team Principal Dave Brailsford, who as Performance Director of British Cycling will also have one eye on the Olympics, with the road race taking place less than a week after the Tour finishes, said: “Deciding our final nine was a very tough challenge because we are blessed with a great depth of talent in our squad.

“We believe we have picked a strong and balanced team though, and one which can cater for any eventuality,” he continued.

“Our priority this year is the General Classification with Bradley but that doesn’t mean we’ll neglect the sprint stages, or Mark’s bid for green jersey.

“Chris, Mick, and Richie are among our strongest climbers and will all be there to support Bradley in the mountains, but then we’ve got riders like Christian and Kosta [Siustou] who have strong engines on the flats, and versatile riders like Edvald and Bernhard who can support Mark in the sprints.

“This squad is truly world class with a proven pedigree of success,” he added. “They have trained, raced and lived together since the start of the season and that has moulded them into a well-oiled, focused and close-knit team.

“They are all full of confidence after their recent run of results and it’s going to be exciting to see how the race transpires.”
 

20 user comments

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Quote:
"Hopefully we can do the business for ourselves and our fans, and become the most successful British-based cycling team ever.”

They're that already, aren't they? Maybe he means the most successful into the future too for the rest of history?

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1347 posts]
21st June 2012 - 14:37

2 Likes

I predict a stage where it looks like EBH is doing a lead out for Cav, but he stays in front and wins.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1347 posts]
21st June 2012 - 14:40

2 Likes

Brad's trying to keep a lid on things but he's obviously brimming with confidence. Cycling weekly quote his as saying:

"We did a session today and the numbers were amazing and it's like 'bloody hell, this is exciting stuff'. It's excitement now, and it's about putting that into practice."

It's perfectly conceivable that Sky may have to defend the yellow jersey for the whole 3 weeks if Brad nails the prologue, although I think if so they will relinquish it to a French break away stage winner who'll hold until the second Monday (ITT) which will still mean near 2 week defence. That means being present on or near the front in every single mountain stage - hard work indeed. Not sure what such a tactic and win for Brad says about Sky though. Worrying similar to USPS back in the day, although that's where the similarity ends...

I can't see Sky working in the first week to close the break aways and they'll leave it to Shimano/Argos, Lotto Belisol, Garmin and Greenedge to chase. Might mean fewer opportunities for the sprinters. Looking forward to it!

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [562 posts]
21st June 2012 - 15:00

2 Likes

Thats a bloody strong team considering what they did on the climbs in the Dauphine.

Mind you the tour is a different race altogether but for once i'm quietly optomistic about a brit actually winning something big.

If they do i can see Wiggo as SPOTTY and his team as team of the year !!!!! that would be one in the eye for the nancy footballers Rolling On The Floor

‘It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing.’

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2781 posts]
21st June 2012 - 15:34

3 Likes

Doubt the majority of the British public would appreciate the team element of Brad winning.

It reminds me of the draft questions Cav had to field after winning the Green Jersey last year like: 'if you're the fastest, how come you didn't win the whole thing?'. Having said that, the non-cycling public will all be experts by the time the Olympics (TM) come around.

Now, where can I get a gold helmet???

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [562 posts]
21st June 2012 - 15:51

2 Likes

Fingers crossed that an extra mountain man/rouleur wouldn't have been a better inclusion than Cav when the final yellow jersey is awarded in Paris.

C'mon Brad and the Sky train! Big Grin Thinking

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [391 posts]
21st June 2012 - 15:56

2 Likes

bikeandy61 wrote:
Fingers crossed that an extra mountain man/rouleur wouldn't have been a better inclusion than Cav when the final yellow jersey is awarded in Paris.

C'mon Brad and the Sky train! Big Grin Thinking

I know what your saying Andy but they might have been thinking that it was disrespectful to the Green and Champion's jersies if he didn't take part at least when he was fit and able.

posted by Marauder [240 posts]
21st June 2012 - 16:16

2 Likes

Brian Nichol wrote:
bikeandy61 wrote:
Fingers crossed that an extra mountain man/rouleur wouldn't have been a better inclusion than Cav when the final yellow jersey is awarded in Paris.

C'mon Brad and the Sky train! Big Grin Thinking

I know what your saying Andy but they might have been thinking that it was disrespectful to the Green and Champion's jersies if he didn't take part at least when he was fit and able.

Thing is, even with a change in condition reducing his outright sprinting speed, you wouldn't bet against Cav for at least a couple of stage wins. Very few teams would leave behind a couple of almost guaranteed wins (which for most would be a successful Tour) to bring an extra mountain domestique. In reality, if Wiggo can't win it with 7 men in support, it's probably down to something other than a lack of domestiques. Looking forward to seeing whether he can pull it off!

posted by step-hent [684 posts]
21st June 2012 - 16:27

3 Likes

Getting excited now!

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

posted by notfastenough [3233 posts]
21st June 2012 - 17:39

2 Likes

NB. The manx Express won stage 5, 7, 11,15 and 21 of the 2011 Tour de France.

I make that 5 not four. Plain Face

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1730 posts]
21st June 2012 - 17:54

2 Likes

If Wiggo does win then I hope that Sky recognizes the contribution that the other 8 men will have made. By maybe turning the blue stripes on their kit yellow for the final stage.
Along with a Wiggins win I'm also hoping for a Cav win on the Champs Elysees thus equaling Merckx's record of 4 final stage wins.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
21st June 2012 - 18:23

4 Likes

Not allowed I think, there was a big thing about Livestrong a couple of years ago.

You're only allowed to change your kit once a season in one race, presumably the whole race, so I expect a green stripe and bikes for sky next month.

Or maybe they'll stick with the blue.

Who knows?

All I know is that I want to see some TASTY argyll, comme suit:

Screen shot 2012-06-21 at 20.07.01.png

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1730 posts]
21st June 2012 - 20:07

0 Likes

I hope Cavendish is getting paid a lot of money because Sky aren't doing anything else for him.

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
21st June 2012 - 21:08

3 Likes

Cav has got years worth of green jerseys left in him, but how many years of yellow has Brad? This year is designed for him, Cav seems good enough to win for a few years yet to come.

the greater good.....

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [491 posts]
21st June 2012 - 23:14

1 Like

Cav will retire the greatest sprinter of all time.

Its olympic year and Wiggo will never have a better chance of wearing yellow.

So calm down.

posted by Darthshearer [141 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 8:22

6 Likes

I think Sky would be crazy not to aim for the GC win this year as it's likely to be the best chance for Wiggins. If he doesn't at least get a podium spot then I think he'd be very disappointed.

As others have said above, Cav has a chance to be Olympic champion this year and a few more years of Grand Tour sprint jerseys to come so may not realistically be targeting green this year (especially if the team selection is geared towards GC anyway).

posted by Sadly Biggins [264 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 10:41

2 Likes

All true, but I think the flip side is that if Cav were to target green, then as we have seen, the other teams simply don't ride, and all the pressure is on Sky. This way though, other teams have to put the work in to pull back the break, leaving Cav in the same position with 5km to go. Obviously, then it's about sprint trains and how much outright speed he has sacrificed in favour of climbing ability.

Also, he'll probably want to stretch his climbing legs a few times to retain the correct form for the Olympics, so he might be in a better shape for overall consistency once intermediate points are taken into account.

Not saying he'll finish, mind.

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

posted by notfastenough [3233 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 11:11

1 Like

arrieredupeleton wrote:
It reminds me of the draft questions Cav had to field after winning the Green Jersey last year like: 'if you're the fastest, how come you didn't win the whole thing?'

In a word: ignorance.

It's like asking a 100 metre specialist why he doesn't also win the 1500m, marathon, steeplechase AND the pole vault... every day for 3 weeks.

The public's ignorance may be similar to mine about other sports (although I wouldn't ask such dumb questions in the first place). Compared to riders climbing and descending through the mountains or the formation riding during the TTT the 'spectacle' of 22 idiots pansying about with a ball on a lawn for an hour or so can't compare. The same applies to golf - if I want to see some parkland I'll visit a National Trust property.

For the first time in my lifetime there is a British rider challenging for the overall win in the biggest, hardest, most demanding event on the planet. On its own that's pretty special. That Bradley is supported up by a truly top level team, something previous generations of British riders could barely dream of, is even better.

We will also see the fastest and most talked-about sprinter in the world wearing the other great prize in cycling (last won by a Brit in 1965), who will show he doesn't need a dedicated sprint train.

I'm not hugely patriotic and don't consider sportsmen as 'heroes' but this must be the most eagerly awaited Grand Départ ever for fans on this side of the Channel. One week to go and I'm getting excited!

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1979 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 14:18

2 Likes

Wiggins is more of an all rounder than Cavendish will ever be, so the team is right to support Wiggo. Cavendish will never win a major tour, great sprinter though he is.

But this year, just hoping Bradley won't be an 'also ran' like other years.

posted by Karbon Kev [677 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 19:35

2 Likes

Why the nasty comments about football? Personally, I love both cycling and football. It would be great if England won the Euros and Wiggins won the Tour, but given what happened last year I wouldn't count your chickens too early on the latter one and the first would be a miracle.

posted by Alan Tullett [1455 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 23:07

2 Likes