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2009 SUMMARY: Having raised the bar substantially in track racing, the commotion caused when Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton turned their attention to the road was hardly surprising. After signing Bradley Wiggins late on in the year, the British-backed team looks set to follow Cervélo’s example last season and create a stir right from the off. They’ve got a strong group of riders, superb support staff and a sponsor that looks to be in it for the long term.
LOOKING AHEAD: The primary goal for Sky’s debut season is to secure a wildcard entry to the Tour de France. Rather than bringing in a group of French riders to attract Tour boss Christian Prudhomme’s eye, Brailsford and his staff have opted for a lot of strong sprinters, Wiggins’s Tour-winning potential and the awesome talent of Edvald Boasson Hagen. The Norwegian was sensational in 2009 and if he continues that form, Prudhomme is sure to want Hagen’s hulking figure on the start-line in Rotterdam.
THE LINE-UP: Securing Bradley Wiggins’s release from Garmin was a major bonus for what was already a very strong-looking squad. In Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Juan Antonio Flecha, Simon Gerrans, Thomas Löfkvist, Boasson Hagen and, above all, Wiggins, they have the names to secure that coveted Tour wildcard.
ONE TO WATCH: The Isle of Man already has one world-beater in Mark Cavendish and may have turned up another in 20-year-old Peter Kennaugh. It’s too early to say how far he could go but third place in last year’s ‘Baby’ Giro, a strong display at the Tour de l’Avenir and fourth in the U23 road race at the Worlds mark him out as a formidable talent. He’ll be brought on slowly as he adapts to the distance step-up of the pro ranks but should still manage to steal a headline or two during the coming year.