Team Sky is bringing many innovations to professional cycling, and the way its selects the riders for the Tour de France will be no different. The riders have decided the criteria as to who is selected for the Tour de France, and the team will probably be announced as early as next month.
The team will be led by Bradley Wiggins, who finished fourth last year and was the revelation of the race. 18 other riders are competing for the eight spots in the team that will line up in Rotterdam on July 3.
"We asked the riders back in November how they thought the Tour team should be selected, and they came up with a plan,” team principal Dave Brailsford told the Guardian newspaper. “We know from previous experience with the Olympics that the biggest source of unrest and friction is team selection. The riders want to know two things: what it takes to be selected, and who makes the decision. From our point of view, we want the team picked early. We want them at their best at the Tour, not to gain selection."
The team received a wildcard invitation to the Tour de France on Tuesday, thanks to the strength of the team but also due to its “clean credentials,” Brailsford said. "It was certainly one of the factors. I think that, on the sporting front, we earned our place on merit. I also like to think that it's recognised that we're doing it the right way, and that we're committed to clean cycling.”
Wiggins will lead the team after joining Team Sky from Garmin during the winter. Two of the team's young Scandinavian stars, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thomas Löfkvist are also likely to be in the Tour de France line-up.
Wiggins was forced to miss the recent Volta a Catalunya stage race due to a stomach problem. He is expected to return in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (April 5-10). “We'll probably re-jig his programme slightly," Brailsford said. "It's not ideal, but it's not a threat to our overall strategy."