Sir Dave Brailsford says that Team Sky will get behind Sir Bradley Wiggins at next year’s Paris-Roubaix and has also warned Chris Froome’s Tour de France rivals that the rider still has room for improvement. Brailsford says that Sky would like to win the Tour and a classic as they look to bounce back from a relatively disappointing 2014 season
Team Sky’s major goals in 2015 will once again revolve around Wiggins and Froome, even if the former is rumoured to be moving to a new 21st Century Fox sponsored Sky development squad from April onwards. Speaking to the BBC, Brailsford said:
"We'd like to win the Tour, we'd like to win a classic. And we'd really like to get behind Bradley for a good crack at the Paris-Roubaix race."
Wiggins finished ninth in this year’s Paris-Roubaix despite mixed opinion about his chances beforehand.
“Of course he’s welcome,” said three-time winner, Fabian Cancellara at the time. “Everyone is welcome to Roubaix. Everyone. Even [Nairo] Quintana is welcome.”
While Italian rider, Filippo Pozzato, who came second in 2009, observed:
“Wiggins is very, very strong in terms of numbers but at Roubaix, with that style of racing he has, I don’t think he can do anything. I’ve seen Wiggins riding and he’s a bit like me: he’s always at the back of the peloton with a gap of ten metres in front of him. I have the same problem in these races, and if you’re always at the back when you get to the pavé, you have to make twice the effort just to get up to the front again.”
Wiggins wasn’t actually the first Sky rider across the line this year, however. Geraint Thomas came seventh, yet Brailsford’s words seem to imply that Wiggins will be the team’s main focus for the race in 2015. Afterwards, he will switch focus to the track with an Hour Record attempt pencilled in for June and the 2016 Rio Olympics his next major goal after that.
Brailsford also warned Chris Froome’s rivals that they still haven’t seen the best of the 2013 Tour de France winner.
“He's 29 years old, he's still hungry and committed, and there's still room for improvement. I'm sure we'll see ongoing improvement.”
However, the Team Sky boss also added that it is great for the sport to see this year’s three Grand Tour winners – Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador – all ‘at the top of their games’.
Referring to Froome’s second place in the Vuelta a Espana, he said:
"It's great for the sport. Rather than having just one or two guys up there, you've got four who can battle it out, as we saw in Spain.
"Contador and Chris were hammering it out on the very last mountain stage and it was great to watch. They're very closely matched and that's when it comes down to racing. It's not just about physiology."
After a disappointing year in one-day races and failure to win a single Grand Tour stage, Team Sky recently strengthened their squad with five new signings, including Irishman, Nicolas Roche and Leopold Konig, who finished seventh in the Tour. Despite this, it seems that Wiggins and Froome still represent the team’s best hopes for major wins in 2015.