Team Sky’s principal Dave Brailsford and key general classification rider Bradley Wiggins have singled out the return of a team time trial at the 2011 Tour de France as a major goal for the British team. Brailsford believes a strong showing at the Les Essarts TTT on stage two could hold the key to securing the yellow leader’s jersey for the first half of the race.
"We consider ourselves to be competitive in that particular discipline so it will be definitely be an early focus for us. Teams like HTC-Columbia and Garmin will no doubt be thinking the same thing though, so they should be an exciting few days to watch,” Brailsford told TeamSky.com.
"With those stages out of the way, you could argue that if a team is on top of their game they could potentially defend the jersey right the way through to Super-Besse Sancy on stage nine,” he said. "Some of the stages in between have tough finishes though so it's going to be a very difficult race to control."
Wiggins, who was brought to Team Sky from Garmin as the squad’s main general classification hope for this season, also spoke enthusiastically about the team's hopes for the 23 kilometre stage. A move into the yellow jersey during the event’s first time trial would depend to a degree on the first stage finishing in a bunch sprint.
"That stage is definitely the main source of excitement for us given our track background and experience we've built up in those types of events this season,” said Wiggins. “It's going to be a really important day for us in terms of our team selection and preparation.
"There's obviously more chance of losing time on that opening stage than there would be in a prologue, but if all goes well there then stage two represents a great chance for us to win the stage and get someone in the yellow jersey," he added.
The launch of the Tour’s 2011 route helps Team Sky put its much hyped, but ultimately disappointing debut at the event this year behind it, according to Wiggins. Big things were expected of the rider after his fourth place in 2009 but even the Londoner has since described his ride to 24th this year, nearly 40 minutes down on Alberto Contador, as mediocre.
"The Tour de France always looks tough on paper and unveiling the route means we can finally put a cross through 2010,” said Wiggins. “Everybody is looking towards 2011 now and the 2010 Tour is done.
"We've talked about what went wrong there and we're already in the process of putting things right next year,” he added. “It's no secret we want to get on the podium, and win it if we can, and we'll set the bar high once again and aim to do that."