Earlier this year, as the transfer season heated up and Team Sky was said to be courting just about ever British rider, the rumour mill was rife with speculation that both Bradley Wiggins and David Millar would move from Garmin-Transitions across to the nascent British team.
While the rumours surrounding Wiggins proved this week to be true, Millar told Cyclingnews that, despite having a close connection to people within Team Sky and its set-up, he would ride out his career with Garmin-Transitions.
"Sky has some of my best friends - Dave [Brailsford] was the guy who looked after me during my ban, he's one of my best friends. My sister is one of the big players in that team as well. So it's funny, the people on the team are quite literally friends and family, but I quite enjoy the fact we're now competing. It gives it another edge, another angle."
Team Sky's long battle to wrestle Wiggins out of the remaining year of his contract with Garmin-Transitions finally ended on Thursday, when team manager Jonathan Vaughters conceded, choosing to say goodbye to his Grand Tour protege rather than face a lengthy legal battle.
After a long morning of phone calls and interviews in which he told the New York Times, "The way the deal went through is very disrespectful, and Brad clearly went after the money, which is sad", Millar seemed resigned to the change when he spoke with Cyclingnews.
Millar likened Team Sky, with massive resources "no other cycling team in the world has ever had", to a Formula 1 team coming into cycling. But with that money comes great pressure to live up to very high expectations, and a good deal of that pressure will be on Wiggins.
"With all the resources they have, they need to live up to what they propose, which is a podium in the Tour de France and being one of the best teams in the world. If they don't do that, in their eyes, they'll have failed."
In contrast, Millar said Garmin-Transitions is under no pressure from its partners, and is free to continue to operate as they have.
"Sky is Sky, it's News Corp, it's Rupert Murdoch - a win at all costs sort of thing. We're part of the culture of cycling ... Their destiny is in their hands. They know it, everything they say in the press, everything the riders do, it's all calculated. They're a clinical team, they base themselves on logic, not emotion. Our biggest detriment as a team is we're very emotionally based.
"We're part of the sport, we love the sport and we understand it. Our sponsors have bought into what we do, they're partners - they've bought into our idea of our sport, cycling, we haven't bought into our sponsor's idea."
Losing Wiggins after the team supported him and groomed him from prologue specialist into GC contender was clearly a blow to both Millar and Vaughters.
"Wiggins was one of the biggest stories of the Tour this year, hats off to Jonathan. When he came on to the team last year, he came on as a prologue rider, but Jonathan saw him as something bigger than that. I thought Wiggins could be a better Classics rider or something like that - never once did I think he could be a GC rider, but Jonathan believed in Bradley beyond anyone else's thoughts. It was a typical JV move."
It won't be long before the season starts and the battle moves from the board room to the road, but the competition between Sky and Garmin is not just on the bike, but in the culture of cycling itself, something Millar believes Sky desires to change.
"I don't think Sky will have competition with anybody - they'll be in competition with themselves. I know that's how they operate. As far as they're concerned, they're coming in to change the sport - to make it different.
"But this is our world, I know it better than they do and so does Jonathan. I hope for their benefit they can achieve what they want to."
Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A swimmer in her younger days, Laura made the change to cycling later in life, but was immediately swept up by a huge passion for the sport. Riding for fitness quickly gave way to the competitive urge, and a decade of racing later she can look back on a number of high profile races and say with confidence, "I started". While her racing days are over for the most part, she continues to dabble in cyclo-cross and competing against fellow pathletes on the greenways of Raleigh, North Carolina.
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