Bradley Wiggins would welcome Mark Cavendish at Team Sky, assuming that reports that the current HTC-Highroad sprinter will sign for the British team once the transfer window opens are true.
HTC are set to pull out of the sport at the end of this season and as of yet owner Bob Stapleton has failed to find a replacement sponsor. It is understood that Cavendish has talked to a number of teams but has not signed a contract. UCI rules stipulate that riders and teams can negotiate through the race season but that contracts can only be signed and recognised from August 1st. However, in June the Daily Mail reported that Cavendish would put pen to paper in deal worth £1.5 million a year.
“Mark’s an incredible guy to have around in the team, he’s got a great way of lifting everyone even when you’re not doing that well. I only see his arrival, if he does come and sign and they get the team sorted out, as a benefit all-round,” Wiggins told the press, Tuesday.
In their brief but successful existence to date, Sky have entered each Grand Tour with options, preferring to build a team around a GC hopeful and a sprinter, rather than just one or the other, and should Cavendish eventually sign for Sky, Wiggins believes his arrival would only see a continuation of that philosophy.
“I don’t see any conflict in that area and in every Grand Tour we’ve done we’ve always done the lead-out for someone. The thing with Mark is that if you do that lead-out 99 times out of 100 he’ll win. That helps the morale and everything in the team,” he said.
“If you’re leading the Tour with a week to go obviously at that point it would be detrimental to have someone like Mark in the team because he can’t ride on the front or whatever, he’s going to be at a disadvantage going into the mountains. But if I was going for a top five GC it’s no different to what we were doing this year, we had [Ben] Swift, [Geraint] Thomas and [Edvald] Boasson Hagen all going for the sprints and helping each other out.”
Wiggins was signed for Sky’s inaugural season and held up as their Grand Tour leader after a superb 4th place finish in the 2009 Tour de France. He struggled in last year’s race but came into form just before the 2011 Tour, winning the Critérium du Dauphiné. He looked set for a top ten place in the Tour but crashed out in the first week with a broken collarbone.
During a press conference on Tuesday, the disappointment of that crash seemed far from his mind as he gears up for the Vuelta a España, a three-week race he has never started, but in which he hopes to compete at GC level this year.
However, Wiggins' collarbone break means that he can’t race until the opening time trial at the Vuelta, as any crash could shift the metal plate currently holding his shoulder together, and lead to complications with the healing injury.
“The focus has been on the Vuelta and coming up to three weeks after the crash I’m coming up to around 90 percent of where I was in terms of the body being back to normal. I got away lightly I think,” he said.