Briton says Sky's Tour de France team is extremely strong
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) will be back on the track this Monday, as he continues his training for the Commonwealth Games. Wiggins has been training at the Manchester Velodrome over the past month, but there still remained a slim possibility that he would be called up to the Tour de France squad.
Today, team Sky announced a Wiggins-less Tour team, clearing the way for the newly crowned British time trial champion to focus on a competitive return to the boards. “I will be track training on Monday morning for the team pursuit. I have been back with them for three weeks now, training for the Commonwealth Games,” Wiggins said during his post race press conference, at the British National Time Trial Championships on Thursday evening.
Wiggins hinted at the end of last year that he would be interested in returning to the track, with the express intention of winning gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016. For him, the Commonwealth Games provide a good stepping stone, two year’s away from the next Olympic Games.
“I sat down with Dave and the performance team that in terms of ticking some boxes for Rio, it will be an opportunity to have a go. Although it’s only the Commonwealth Games it is still the bulk of the team, barring Pete (Kennaugh) and G (Geraint Thomas),” said Wiggins.
The track was where it all started for Wiggins, like the majority of riders who have been through the British system. He won his first national title in 1999, at the age of 18, riding with Rob Hayles in the Madison. His first world title came four years later in the individual pursuit, the event that would make his name.He has since won three Olympic golds on the track (plus one on the road) and six world titles.
Wiggins seems to have found a new lease of life in returning to his roots. “It’s where I started. It’s like being a junior again, riding into Manchester and riding home again,” he says.
“I’ve slotted back in. It was always the question. It’s been four years since I’ve been on the track. It was just a case of seeing if I could do it for a start and so far it’s been good,” he continued.
“I have really enjoyed it. It’s a sign of how old you are when you don’t know who the young kids are. They weren’t born when you first won the worlds, it’s quite a strange feeling.”
The Tour de France team and Wiggins’ non-participation was a hot topic after the time trial. Earlier this month, he announced that he wouldn't be in the squad, although it wasn't made official until this Friday. Wiggins was fairly pragmatic about the situation and accepted that he had some role in not making the final cut.
“With my crash in Switzerland, I was probably lacking in preparation, so there were probably eight better guys that could go in front of me. It is what it is,” said Wiggins.
“There was a cut-off point, and I probably didn’t have the preparation with having gone back on the track. It’s disappointing on a personal level, but from a team perspective they’ve probably put up the strongest team they have today.”
Sky will be looking to take their third straight Tour de France title as Chris Froome aims to defend his from 2013. The team has been hampered by a number of issues that has seen the team lose a number of important riders. The nine-man team announced today was missing the likes of Ian Stannard and Sergio Henao (both injured), who could have played key roles in the title defence. However, Wiggins was very complimentary about the team Sky had chosen to send.
“I think that the team they are sending is an incredible team. They’ve got the defending champion, who’s still got to be the favourite to win it. You’ve got the like of Geraint, who could win on Sunday and take the British Road title into the Tour. I think the team they are taking, you can’t fault it.”