After Vincenzo Nibali confirmed that he would remain at Liquigas, TeamSky has refused to rule out a move for Garmin's Bradley Wiggins, saying that there is a possibility that he might ride for them in 2010. Speculation has been rife that Wiggins would leave Garmin for Sky after finishing fourth at the Tour and Sky's desire to hire British riders.
"If Bradley is available then of course we're interested; he's British, so yes it's a possibility," Team Sky directeur sportif Scott Sunderland told Cyclingnews. "If Wiggins himself wants to come then of course it could happen. But it's not so that we'd take him because we can't have Nibali or vice versa."
Missing out on Nibali comes as a shock to many cycling fans after his deal looked to be on the cards earlier in the year. The Italian also finished seventh in the Tour, with some fine displays in the mountains. However, the Italian was left out of the Liqiugas's Giro squad and the Italian outfit already has an abundance of stage race potential with Ivan Basso, Franco Pellizotti and Roman Krueziger.
"Speculation is one thing, reality another. Vincenzo was indeed a rider we were interested in but I'm sure so were a lot of teams who saw his performance at the Tour de France." continued Sunderland.
"But Nibali is under contract, he preferred to stay and of course we respect that and he'll be riding with Liquigas next season. I guess, as an Italian rider it is still most comfortable for him to ride for an Italian team.
"Nibali's a great rider and I'm sure that even Bruyneel and Radio Shack would have been on the phone to him as well. But just like other teams would have noticed while scouting the field I have too found that there's plenty of other potentially great talent out there," Sunderland explained.
"One of the most important aspects for me is that the riders who chose to come and be part of Team Sky do so because they really see themselves working with the team, its complete concept and its philosophy. Of course I was contacted by riders just looking for dollars and I admit I wasted a bit of time on some... but one quickly gets a feel of their intentions and there's a few that were eliminated from the infamous 'Team Sky wish list' just because of that.
Sunderland was quick to point out, "I know cycling fans were wondering about the effects of the 'big money' Team Sky supposedly has to spend on riders but I can clarify that no rider will be paid more than what we value his abilities to be worth, what he brings to the team. The great thing about the group of riders who will be forming Team Sky is their enthusiasm and their eagerness to be part of this particular team."
Sunderland, who is unable to announce any riders signed until the UCI deadline of September 1 did add that Team Sky's roster is almost complete, with three places still to be filled and a number of riders still in negotiations with management.
"We're really happy with the riders we have on board; now we're just rounding off our roster. We'll come out with some big established names and some young riders, the up-and-coming stars who will bring a lot to the team over the coming years as well. It'll be a very complete team for all types of races.
"We're now looking at filling in the last three places on the team and we have a few different riders we're negotiating with. I'm still receiving expressions of interest daily and sometimes I'm sorry I can't have a team of 30 riders as there is definitely a lot of talent out there deserving a go."