Team Sky's decision to hold its official team launch in London has as expected caused plenty of excitement amongst cycling fans, but Sky has also had to defend itself from accusations of London bias from disgruntled supporters who can't make it to the capital for the 4th of January launch.
As we reported yesterday, anticipation of the launch has been heightened by the prospect of 300 lucky cyclists getting to ride through London’s streets alongside the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha on the first Monday of the New Year.
There’s still three and a half weeks to go until Team Sky’s riders first turn their cranks for real in the Tour Down Under, but excitement is building among fans here if reaction on the team’s Facebook page of its 4 January launch in London is anything to go by.
The decision to launch in London hasn’t pleased everyone, however, with many outside the capital voicing frustration on Facebook that the team has chosen to launch there, rather than elsewhere, with Manchester understandably a popular choice given that it is where British Cycling is based.
In answer to those criticisms, Team Sky issued a statement – repeated at the end of this article – on Facebook outlining the reasons for choosing to launch in London, chief among which were logistical issues, with the capital seen as the most convenient location to bring together riders and support staff from across Europe not only for the launch itself, but also for distributing bikes and kit to riders and for onward travel to either a training camp in Spain, or the Tour Down Under.
Also, Team Sky felt that the capital was best equipped to host the planned mass participation ride, given the success of the London Skyride back in September, and that it also provided the best option in terms of media facilities. We’d have pushed the case for Bath being used as the launch venue instead, but it would be a bit of a squeeze getting everyone into road.cc towers.
“Many people are asking why the team launch, and the public ride are in London on 4th January. Here's a quick explanation.
Firstly, pretty much all the riders, coaches and mechanics who have to come to the launch live abroad [as it's generally easier to live in continental Europe as a pro-cyclist. Even the Brits], so London logistically offers the best transport options to return to the UK with the airports and Eurostar [don't even go there on either subject given the snow lately!]. Why not host the launch in Europe? Well, it wouldn't matter where we hosted it, 90% of the team would need to travel to get there, and we feel London is the most convenient location for everyone we need to be there to travel to (particularly on direct flights to limit air travel to only what is absolutely necessary).
Secondly, due to the public ride we needed a city conditioned to mass-rides, and our biggest Skyride public events have been in London to date. We feel comfortable knowing what does, and doesn't work in and around the central city area.
Thirdly, we needed an appropriate venue for our media engagements and although many cities admittedly offer options, London offered us the most venue options for us to select from.
Fourthly, the launch is just part of a bigger team operational meeting to distribute bikes and kit etc so, again, inbound transport hubs were key.
And, finally, following the launch the team departs to a training camp in Spain [or Tour Down Under in Adelaide for others] so, again, the best transport options were around London.
Phew! So as you can see it was a combination of reasons. Each in their own right could be argued either way, but collectively they all pointed to London. This explanation may not satisfy all of you, but hopefully you appreciate the sentiment.”
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.