World's number one ranked team the favorite among readers
Team Sky has been voted the best team of 2012, capturing a massive 13,866 votes in the Cyclingnews Reader Poll, almost 10,000 more votes than second placed team Garmin-Sharp.
Team Sky dominated the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first ever British winner of the yellow jersey and compatriot but not always loyal teammate Chris Froome finished a close second overall. Many of their rivals scoffed when team manager Dave Brailsford set the goal of winning the Tour de France with a British rider within five years. Yet Team Sky did it in just three years.
The boys in black and blue also won close to 50 other races and racked up numerous placings, enough to top the UCI WorldTour team ranking and claim the bragging rights of team of the year.
Wiggins dominated Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium di Dauphine, while Mark Cavendish won 14 sprints in his year with Team Sky and even took overall victory at the Ster ZLM Tour in June. Edvald Boasson Hagen had a disappointing spring but won the Tour of Norway and the GP Ouest-France classic in the summer and was second behind Philippe Gilbert in the world road race championships. And he is still only 24.
Many of the Team Sky riders sacrificed their won chances to help Wiggins and Cavendish but they were also given their chance and often took it. Richie Porte won the Volta ao Algarve, Ian Stannard won the British national road race title, Rigoberto Uran won Gran Piemonte and was the best young rider at the Giro d'Italia, finishing seventh overall.
Team Sky perhaps only underperformed in the Spring Classics but plans are in place to make sure that is rectified in 2013.
New ways of doing things
Traditions and the need for experience run deep in professional cycling but Team Sky has brought new ways of doing things to the peloton since the team was created in 2010. They struggled in their first Tour de France, admitted they over analyzed things in 2011 but got everything right in July this summer.
Wiggins was at his best, Froome was the best possible understudy and the Richie Porte, Michael Rogers, Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel and even Mark Cavendish spent hours on the front controlling the peloton and physiologically destroying their rivals.
Team Sky's success in 2012 has forced other teams look at how they do things and forced them to improve their coaching and physiology expertise. Riding hard is not enough against a back up team of race and sprint analysis specialist, coaches, tacticians and some of the best race soigneurs and mechanics. Brailsford's marginal gains mentality and big budget means Team Sky has a decisive edge that has given the confidence to target the biggest races in the sport.
Perhaps Team Sky's biggest problems of 2012 has been their making.
When Mark Cavendish joined the team, talk of going for both the yellow and green jerseys at the Tour de France was a sign of over confidence. Faced with reality and clear chance of overall victory, the team opted to sacrifice Cavendish's chance and put their chips on going for yellow. It paid off, they hit he jackpot, but the decision bruised Cavendish's ego and allowed him to wiggle his way out of his contract and join Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Even a team of Sky's calibre will miss Cavendish's guaranteed double digit win total in 2013.
The team, or at least its main sponsors, also insisted a somewhat utopian zero tolerance stance against doping. Yet there is little concrete proof that the loss of Sean Yates, Steven De Jongh, Bobby Julich has made the team more credible than it already was.
On the other hand, Michael Barry's much delayed confession that he doped while at the US Postal Service team, the botched hiring of Dutch doctor Geert Leinders and Michael Rogers' unexplained move to Saxo-Tinkoff all stood out as serious contradictions and hinted at a lack of consistency and transparency.
Cycling is so complex and so contradictory that no team can have a perfect season, not even Team Sky.
Best team of 2012 Cyclingnews Reader poll
||Belgium's national team for men's cyclo-cross Worlds and road Worlds
||No opinion for best team
Total votes: 28,185