Shane Sutton believes that the Giro d’Italia could prove the ideal preparation for Bradley Wiggins’ assault on the Hour Record and a return to the track as he builds towards the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
Wiggins is currently training for the Spring Classics and spent last week riding reconnaissance on the cobbles. Paris-Roubaix is his major objective for next spring, with a tilt at the Hour Record pencilled in for June. A Giro d’Italia ride remains a possibility before he signs off at Team Sky and moves to his yet to be named development team.
“The ideal preparation would be a couple of weeks in the Giro, just like we've done before with [Geraint] Thomas and [Peter] Kennaugh. That's something that Brad and the team will need to decide on,” Sutton told Cyclingnews.
Team Sky have departed for their first training camp of the new season in Mallorca, and the majority of the riders’ race programmes will be finalised in the coming weeks. Chris Froome is expected to target the Tour de France in July, while Richie Porte could be handed another chance to lead the team at the Giro d’Italia. Wiggins’s last appearance at the Giro came in 2013, a race he abandoned due to injury. Selection for the race in 2015 would be a big call for the Team Sky management and the rider himself has yet to comment on the matter.
Sutton, who is managing Great Britain’s efforts at the Track World Cup in London this weekend has been in constant contact with Wiggins in recent weeks. On Friday Great Britain’s men won gold in team pursuit – the event Wiggins will target in Rio in 2016.
“I had a text from him last night, he's obviously been watching [the World Cup],” Sutton said.
“I said 'it will be nice to have you back man’, and he just wrote back saying 'can't wait'. He's working for the classics but hopefully he'll come back from there with a big win, and then he'll start focusing on the track again.”
Whether the Giro is part of Wiggins’ final schedule or not the 2012 Tour de France winner is expected to return to track training after Paris-Roubaix. That would leave him with just over a year until the Rio Games and Sutton believes it would be ample time for the multiple Olympic champion to regain his track legs.
“Brad's a natural at this type of business, he can slot in straight away, so there won't be a problem. Anybody other than Brad, you'd have doubts, but because of his technical skills in line with his speed, he'll fit in.”
“We're going quite well at the moment, and Brad comingto the squad is an added bonus. He'll get it right, he always does and you've only got to look at his palmares to see he gets it right when it matters. If he does two weeks at the Giro, whatever, if he does the Hour, whatever, he'll arrive with us when he needs to and in the shape he needs to.”
Wiggins’s trade team for the second phase of 2015 is expected to be announced in the coming fortnight. A title sponsor has not yet been announced but Sky are heavily involved as the team look to support Wiggins and develop his successor.
“Team Wiggins” as Sutton referred to them will have an “emphasis to try and produce the next Wiggins. Basically, we'll take riders who are going well in the Academy and drop them alongside Brad and the other elite boys on the road. That's part of the inspiration to have a team like that. It's not just to inspire the rest of the nation, it's to give those riders on the periphery the opportunities and make them aware of what it will take for them to be successful.”
“From our point of view, Sky's support in that has been incredible, Brad's really up for it. I think it will be a successful model, it's keeping the talent under one roof which is a good thing.”
As for the team name, Sutton added : “I'm not sure – you'll have to ask Brad that. Maybe it's Team Wiggins...I don't know! At this moment in time we're getting it over the line.”