From its training camp in Mallorca, Spain (see our attached picture gallery), British outfit Team Sky has confirmed the race plans for its riders for the month of February.
After much speculation and second-guessing in the media, current world champion and new Team Sky signing Mark Cavendish will make his debut for the squad at the Tour of Qatar from February 5-10. Cavendish will be joined in the Gulf state by Davide Appollonio, Michael Barry, Bernard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Jeremy Hunt, Christian Knees and Ian Stannard.
Another Tour takes place in neighbouring Oman the following week (February 14-19), and the Team Sky contingent from Qatar will make the short flight across to take part, with the only exceptions being Knees and Flecha. Their places in Oman will be taken by Australian pair Mathew Hayman and Chris Sutton.
Some of Sky’s riders will, however, see their first action of 2012 in Europe. Just a short drive away from the Team Sky training camp is the start line for the Mallorca Challenge, which is a series of five individual one-day races from the 5th to the 9th of the month. Sky will use that event to give the remainder of their new signings their first taste of racing action. Sergio Henao and Richie Porte will be joined by Team Sky stalwart Chris Froome, who memorably took second at last year’s Vuelta a Espana.
Bradley Wiggins has been the figurehead for Team Sky since its debut season in 2010 and, as he told Cyclingnews last week, he feels like he is in the best shape of his career. His 2012 season will begin at the Volta ao Algarve from February 15-19. He will be joined in Portugal by Edvald Boasson Hagen, who is currently flying the flag for the team at the Santos Tour Down Under, and several others.
The last of the Sky riders to get a run out in February will head to the Giro di Sardegna (21-25 February). Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas will be featuring at that race.
For full details of Team Sky’s February 2012 schedule, click here.
All photos by Robin Moore at robindmoore.com