Team Sky Considers Aiming for Yellow & Green Success in Tour de France
Two years after Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford's declared he wanted a British rider to win the Tour de France by 2014, the road racing team now have the manpower to target both the yellow and green jerseys in the three-week race.
Two years after Team Sky general manager Dave Brailsford's declared he wanted a British rider to win the Tour de France by 2014, the road racing team now has the manpower to target both the yellow and green jerseys in the three-week race.
When the team launched in January 2010 with big-money backing and lofty ambitions, all the talk was of Brailsford's assertion and attention focused on team leader Bradley Wiggins who had finished fourth the previous year.
Team Sky were brought back down to earth in their first year when Wiggins could only manage 24th.
Further Tour disappointment followed in 2011 when he broke his collarbone in a seventh-stage crash but now with the addition of world champion Mark Cavendish, no one would discount the possibility of Team Sky being in the hunt for double glory.
"It has been done before and it doesn't take a genius to work it out, you go back and look at how it was done," Brailsford told reporters at a Team Sky media day in west London on Wednesday.
"Certainly that first year was quite a humbling year.
"I don't think we got the best out of the riders that we had but then... coming into last year we actually got a lot out of the riders that we had and performed significantly better."
Wiggins won the Criterium du Dauphine in June and got over his Tour de France disappointment with third place in September's Tour of Spain.
"Sitting here now looking into the third year... I've always said I'll stick by my guns and... that I couldn't see any reason why within five years of starting a pro-team we couldn't have a British rider win the Tour de France," said Brailsford.
"Obviously that first year it didn't quite work out and I think people thought we were a long way off the mark but going into this year I think people actually think it is possible."
The last team to achieve the feat were Team Telekom in 1997 when Jan Ullrich won the Tour and fellow German Erik Zabel took the sprinter's green jersey.
Cavendish, who won the green jersey this year with HTC-Highroad, was confident his new team mates were up to the task.
"It's definitely possible for me to win the green jersey and a British rider to win the yellow jersey in the same Tour de France at Team Sky," said the 26-year-old, who has 20 stage wins in the race.
Wiggins was more circumspect about whether the team would aim for both the overall and sprinter's classifications.
"The assumption is that we're going for both. I haven't really spoken to Cav(endish) about what his goals are for the Tour," said Wiggins, world time trial silver medalist.
"I know what my goals are for the Tour. It may become apparent in June that I'm not capable of doing that so they may go a completely different route. A this stage it's just way too early to start saying... what we're going to do."
Even if the pair do go into the race with separate agendas, Wiggins felt riding alongside Cavendish would prove beneficial rather than forcing the team to split resources.
"The way the Tour has gone now, those first stages are a nightmare. Everyone wants to ride on the front and Cav's team was always on the front in the first week," said the 31-year-old.
"It's an ideal place for me to sit and be out of trouble so I think it would certainly bring the team closer together in that first week... as opposed to just waiting for seven or eight days to the first mountain stage.
"There's the morale in the team from the success in that first week with him winning stages, me being out of trouble, I can't see anything but it being positive really."
The two friends will have a difficult juggling act to perform in July as both eye Olympic medals at the London Games after the Tour.
Wiggins has won three pursuit gold medals on the track but Cavendish has yet to win an Olympic title.
It's going to be a massive July and I'm motivated for the Tour de France and the Olympics both for completely separate reasons," said Cavendish.
"As a professional bike rider... with sponsors to please and with a career to earn, the Tour de France is the biggest thing I can do... It's important to be successful there but in terms of being a British athlete the Olympics means so much to a British person.
"To pull on that national jersey and do something to represent your country and at your home Games that makes it equally big if not bigger, but just on a different level."
The 2012 Tour de France finishes on July 22 and the men's Olympic road race is six days later.
As part of the team that helped Cavendish win the world title in September, Wiggins expects to have a role in the Manxman's Olympic attempt before going for the time trial on Aug. 1.
"Every year is a busy year in cycling terms," Wiggins said.
"The only thing that's more busy this year is the fact I've got to do an hour's time trial nine days after the Tour de France so it's an hour longer than any other season," he joked.