Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome began their racing seasons on Wednesday with the start of the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal. The Sky pairing are using the race to gauge their form after a break from racing stretching back to the Worlds last year.
On yesterday’s first stage Froome kept pace with the leaders while Wiggins lost a handful of seconds. However Sky’s Bobby Julich believes that the greater goal is to assess form as the team’s major goals come later in the season.
“It was the first race for a lot of guys,” Julich told Cyclingnews.
“It was a pretty brutal stage, difficult rolling course but a beautiful day in terms of conditions. Obviously not everyone can be in the finish on a stage like that but I’m really happy with how the guys rode. “
Wiggins’s race programme will mirror that to a number of his grand tour rivals with the British star aiming to peak at the Tour de France this year. Last year he arrived at the race in high form having won the Dauphine Libere, but crashed out of the race with a broken collar bone. He returned to fitness at the end of the year to podium in both Vuelta and Worlds.
“He’s been doing training blocks over the winter so it was his first race, as it was for Froome too. Everyone here is just looking to gauge their form and fitness. It’s not a WorldTour event but obviously everyone has worked really hard over the winter but they’re looking to see where they are against the other guys.”
Julich said that the team will target stage wins if the opportunities present themselves. With one uphill stage and a time trial set to decide the race, Sky has the weapons to potentially win two stages and the overall.
“If there’s an opportunity for us we’ll take it but it’s more about a form finding mission. We got one uphill finish and then the time trial which will be a test even though it’s longest one a lot of them will do for the next few months. They’ll try and make sure they have their position dialled in.”
“You don’t go to a race without trying to lave your mark, so we’re looking to the uphill finish and the time trial and we’ve got a really strong team here.”