Richard Branson hails Wiggins' success
Hint of a future Virgin vs Sky bidding war?
Virgin Group boss Sir Richard Branson has written an enthusiastic note of congratulations to Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Team Sky after today's Tour de France tour de force and hinted that Virgin Group would be interested in sponsoring the squad when the current deal with Sky runs out.
In case you've just come out of a deep cave, Wiggins finished the Tour de France in yellow this afternoon and led out Cavendish to his fourth consecutive Champs Elysees victory.
“When the contract finishes, come see us at Virgin Media!” writes Branson. He might have to wait a while; Sky renewed its support of British Cycling for four years back in May.
The London Olympics starts next weekend. “What a fantastic time for British cyclists to do us proud with such an astonishing performance at the Tour de France,” writes Branson.
“Bradley Wiggins has not only won the Tour de France, he has been supported all the way by fellow Brit Chris Froome, who finished second … backed up by the likes of Mark Cavendish, who claimed a record-breaking fourth consecutive sprint win on the Champs- Élysées.”
You can bet that world+dog will be trying to take the credit for Wiggins' win and Sky's success, and here's Branson staking his claim to Cav's prominence: “Mark was one of the 12 sportspersons Virgin Atlantic picked out back in 2006 as young Olympic 2012 hopefuls with the Flying Start programme. Good to see that prediction coming true!
"Kudos too for Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford, who said in 2009 he would get a British Tour de France winner within five years. And - through gritted teeth - congratulations to Sky for sponsoring the team. When the contract finishes, come see us at Virgin Media!”
He's probably at least half serious. Branson's son Sam is a keen cyclist who rode the full length of the Dallaglio-Flintoff Cycle Slam earlier this year. Branson Senior was scheduled to ride the first few days too, but eventually joined the ride briefly in France. Virgin also sponsors the Virgin Money Cyclone sportive. Branson describes last month's event as “a roaring success”.
Of course the big question if Branson were to sponsor Team Sky is: would we see Fran Millar featured on Richard Branson picking up women?