The British team was often criticised for their tactical decisions and shortcomings during 2010 but showed their maturity and ability as they successfully defended the race lead in the decisive mountain stages in the Dauphiné. Edvald Boasson Hagen sacrificed his own chances to ride for Wiggins in the mountains, while Rigoberto Uran, Simon Gerrans, Geraint Thomas and Christian Knees all rode strongly.
Directeur sportif Sean Yates is usually a man of few words but praised his riders for their performance.
“This is the biggest win Team Sky has had so far, there’s no doubt about that,” he said on the team’s official web site. “The Dauphiné is a massive race with a super-strong field and pretty much anyone who’s anyone was here apart from Alberto Contador and the Schlecks. It’s often described as a mini Tour de France and you cannot underestimate the quality of this result, and the team’s performance.”
“It wasn’t just Bradley’s display I was happy with, but the way the team went about things, and how they handled all the situations that presented themselves. Bradley produced an absolutely phenomenal ride but he could not have done it without them. Everyone did a fantastic job. Rigoberto was immense on that last climb and did what he had to do for Bradley, just like Edvald did. In terms of the workload, it was a constantly changing situation and dependeint on who was feeling good and how the other teams were reacting.”
Count down to the Tour de France
Team manager Dave Brailsford was at the Criterium du Dauphiné to see Wiggins become the third British winner of the race after Brian Robinson in 1961 and Robert Millar in 1990. He has always believed in Wiggins’ stage race credentials.
“This result confirms what we’ve always believed about Brad - he is a guy who can win difficult stage races. It didn’t quite happen last year but it’s nice to see that belief confirmed, both for him and the team” Brailsford said.
“Like Sean said, this result will give everyone a massive boost because they’ve done brilliantly to defend the jersey ever since the time trial last Wednesday. It’s been a great team performance and is all fantastic experience ahead of the Tour. They’ve raced hard and come away with a victory, and while they deserve to enjoy it now, they can’t afford to read too much into it. Our preparations for the Tour remain ongoing and I don’t think anything has changed really in that respect.”
Wiggins headed to Sestriere in Italy for a recovery and altitude camp. He celebrated his victory at the Criterium du Dauphiné with a glass of wine and a pizza with several teammates but Brailsford made sure the team stays focus as the final count down to the Tour de France begins.
“Bradley will take a couple of days off now to recover but then he’s travelling on to Sestriere for a block of altitude training. That was always going to be the case whether he finished first, 10th or 30th,” he said.
“He should definitely enjoy this win but at the same time he still has to keep putting the hard work in and stick to the plan. It’s the same for everyone, and as much as we’d like to, there isn’t even a chance for a big party tonight because everyone has got to go their separate ways now. Hopefully the fans can celebrate on our behalf because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”