Team Sky principle David Brailsford believes that Bradley Wiggins can end his very successful tenure with the British WorldTour team in style. Wiggins is due to leave Team Sky after targeting Paris-Roubaix next month and then join his Wiggins Continental team and race on the track for the final part of his career.
"There's no reason why he can't go out with a win. He's prepared well, he's focused well and when he does that, he's terrific with preparation. He needs a big stage to perform and Paris-Roubaix is certainly that,” Brailsford told Sky Sports News.
Wiggins has been part of Team Sky since its inception in 2010; the team was largely built around him until recently. He landed his biggest successes in Team Sky's black and blue colours, most notably his 2012 Tour de France title. Wiggins is due to switch to the track, where he began his career, to target the Hour Record and the Olympic games in the next 18 months. Among his final races for the team, Wiggins will ride Paris-Nice, which begins this Sunday, where he won ahead of his Tour success.
"Bradley has been an iconic figure for us in Team Sky and for British cycling. He'll start this weekend in the Paris-Nice stage race, in his last stage race for Team Sky. He's won it before and he's ready for it,” said Brailsford. “Then we'll go on Paris-Roubaix which will be his last race for Sky - a big one-day classic and he's ready for that too. It'll be sad to see him go, that's for sure.”
Team Sky has enjoyed a purple patch of late with two GC victories at the Volta ao Algarve and the Vuelta a Andalucía with Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome respectively, and Ian Stannard’s commanding win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. "It's been our best start to the season ever. We've had more victories at this point of the year than we've ever had so it's been a terrific start,” explains Brailsford.
Brailsford claims the team have rallied over the winter, after a particularly challenging 2014 season.
"Last year wasn't the year we had the previous couple of years so we worked very hard through the off-season winter to regroup and reset our goals. Everybody's coming out fighting and the results are starting to come from the right work," he said.
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Astana and the UCI
Brailsford also lent his support to UCI and their handling of the Astana WorldTour licence case. The UCI recently recommended that the Kazakh team’s licence be removed and team have been given a deadline of March 20 submit a response to the Licence Commission.
"I welcome the fact we're all under scrutiny. I welcome the fact that the UCI have reacted in a strong way. There are criteria that must be met by all teams and we're fighting to put the sport back on the map in terms of credibility,” he said. "I welcome the world governing body's stance but they've got the facts and the details and it's they who have to decide on the best course of action.
The findings of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) is also due to be announced in the coming weeks. Froome recently confirmed that he had spoken to the Commission at the end of last season. The final report will be the culmination of a year-long look into the murky past of professional cycling, something Brailsford believes was needed.
"It's a report into the best and what's happened in the past has been well documented. The governing body was obliged to conduct a full review of this,” said Brailsford.
"We can only manage what we do at Team Sky and it's important we recognise our role in helping the sport in good health going forward. We share how we do it and play our role. Some are looking to the past and we're looking to the future."