Team Sky today announced the first riders to sign for the new British professional cycling team. We've re-printed the text of their release below.
While the names announced today may not exactly set the pulse racing, there is a canny blend of youth and experience, and the younger riders all have real potential on the road.
The inclusion of Geraint Thomas is no surprise at all, the 23-year old ex-Barloworld rider has been a part of the Team GB Olympic set up for some time, bagging a gold in the team pursuit in Beijiing, and Bradley Wiggins gave us all a graphic illustration of what British track pursuiters are capable of when given their head on the road. Like Wiggins, Thomas is a rider with a road background too - he rode the Tour for Barloworld in 2007. The hope must be that he can make a similar level of progress on the tarmac.
Likewise, Peter Kennaugh looks a very shrewd signing, again Brailsford will be more aware than anybody of what the young man from the Isle of Man is capable of and if you can't have Cav, then why not have another Manx Missile? The one question mark for Kennaugh might be that he is a talent that many people are comparing to his friend Cavendish and not just because they both come from the Isle of Man, as Cav has proved to be a top sprinter you really need to have a team built around you – something which doesn't fit with British Cycling and Sky's stated aim of winning the Tour de France within five years. Interestingly this has gone out a bit from British Cycling's recently stated aim of doing it within four.
Froome and Stannard are both riders of promise with grand tour experience and both had their moments in this year's Giro d'Italia.
Of the older heads, Steve Cummins knows his way around the Pro Tour peloton after stints with Discovery and Barloworld, and everybody will be pleased to see Russell Downing get his chance to shine on the big stage at the age of 31. Downing's recent race-winning performance in the Tour of Ireland demonstrated that he has the guts and guile to mix it with Pro Tour riders and come out on top.
Now that we know the Brits on the squad, it will be interesting to see who Sky's next signings will be. If they are going for a 2010 Pro Tour licence, we would expect them to be some pretty big names. Watch this space.
Team Sky announcement
Six British riders are the first to be secured for Team Sky, the road team created by Sky and managed by British Cycling Performance Director Dave Brailsford CBE.
Together, the riders bring Tour de France experience, Olympic and Commonwealth medals, success from the Tour of Britain, and a wealth of young developing talent.
The six British riders are:
GERAINT THOMAS MBE: Born in Cardiff, the 23 year-old came through the British Cycling Academy and is a former winner of the Junior Paris Roubaix. Turned professional with Barloworld in 2007, becoming the youngest rider in that year’s Tour de France and the first Welshman to ride it for 40 years. Won Gold for Team Pursuit at Beijing Olympics.
PETER KENNAUGH: Aged 20, and one of the most promising talents to emerge in several years, he turns professional with Team Sky. Peter progressed through the Academy to become the British Under-23 Champion and to dominate the Under-23 calendar in Italy, winning the Trofeo Bastianelli, GP Capadarco and a stage of the Baby Giro. Born on the Isle of Man and partners fellow Manxman Mark Cavendish in Madison on the track.
STEVE CUMMINGS: The 28-year old from Birkenhead is in his fifth season as a professional, riding for Discovery with Lance Armstrong and then with Barloworld. The former Junior National Road champion has now taken three professional wins. A strong time-trial rider, he helped GB to Team Pursuit Gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Silver at the 2004 Olympics and the World Championship in 2005.
CHRIS FROOME: Started in mountain biking in South Africa before moving onto the road, he is an outstanding climber with great potential to develop further. Turned pro in 2007 and is now in his third professional season. Currently with Barloworld, the 24-year old completed the Tour de France in 2008 and was seventh amongst the young riders at the 2009 Giro d’Italia.
IAN STANNARD: Born in Chelmsford, the 22-year old made his professional road debut two years ago as a trainee with T-Mobile. He came 3rd in last year’s Tour of Britain - riding for the GB team and finishing one place behind Steve Cummings - and was selected to ride this year’s Giro d’Italia with the new ISD team.
RUSSELL DOWNING: Winner of the 2009 Tour of Ireland and a former British National Road Champion in 2005. The 31-year old has ridden for Great Britain at the World Championship and, as one of the most successful ever domestic-based professionals, has a long history on the British road-racing scene. Currently rides for Pinarello.
Over the following months they will be joined in Team Sky by up to twenty riders. Further announcements will be made as these riders are secured."
Announcing the recruitment for Team Sky, Team Principal Dave Brailsford said;
“Today brings an important milestone. Team Sky is a major project for British sport; a British Professional Cycling team built to take on the Tour de France.
“We have a rider-centred philosophy so these are the people at its heart. It gives me huge satisfaction to announce these first riders. And as a British Team, I am proud that the first on our roster are British.
“They bring experience of the Tour de France, honours from the Olympics and World Championships, and exciting talent. We can help them continue to develop in this new environment and I know that they can help Team Sky take on the best on the road and win.”
“We have put a lot of time and energy into identifying and recruiting riders who will fit the Team Sky ethos and performance principles. Their style and approach to racing will only enhance our prospects of encouraging a nation of people to get out and ride.”
He concluded; “In the coming weeks and months they will be joined by other riders, from Britain and overseas. We will announce their new team-mates as and when we are able to. In the meantime, we will continue to respect all riders’ arrangements with existing teams and only comment on the riders we have signed, as and when we do.”
Team Sky brings to a professional road team the performance principles that have worked so well with the current GB teams; commitment, meticulous planning, the aggregation of marginal gains and a rider-centred philosophy.
The team aims to: create the first British winner of the Tour de France within five years; inspire people of all ages and abilities to get on their bikes, through the team’s positive profile, attitude and success; and add further support to competitive cycling in Great Britain.
Team Sky will have a core of British riders, coaches and support staff and its British HQ is in Manchester, home to the GB cycling team. The initial squad of around 25 riders will be supported by a team of coaches, technicians and support staff drawn from across the cycling world, many of whom work throughout the year with British elite and developing riders. It will compete from the start of 2010 and hopes to gain an invitation to next year’s Tour de France.
Team Sky made the announcement in a press release sent out at 12:01 on the 9th of September…
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