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].
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.