Britain’s Bradley Wiggins will spearhead Team Sky’s bid for the Tour de France yellow jersey after signing a four year contract with British outfit, Sky announced Thursday.
Wiggins, who finished a surprising fourth overall in the world’s biggest bike race in July, had been racing with the American team Garmin.
Announcing the signing, Dave Brailsford, manager of Team Sky, said that Wiggins was an ideal recruit for Britain’s first ProTour team.
“Brad will be at home in Team Sky. It is the perfect fit and he will be a marquee rider for us.
“Brad was a real revelation at this year’s Tour de France, has been hugely successful for British Cycling and his Olympic success (on the track) has brought wide recognition. His presence will not only help us on the road but with the wider aims of inspiring people to not only follow the team but to get out and ride, whatever their age or ability.”
Wiggins’ successes in cycling had, until this year, been mainly found in the velodrome where he has been a multiple world and Olympic champion in both individual and team pursuit events. Following a strict diet and training program in the lead-up to this year’s Tour de France the Londoner went on to show his true potential throughout the epic race.
Eventually, in the final days of the Tour Wiggins had to battle seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong for the final spot on the podium in Paris, which the American finally won.
Despite losing out Wiggins’ performance was hailed widely as one of the best ever by a British rider on the Tour. Only one other Briton, Scotland’s David Millar, had previously finished as high as fourth place.
Wiggins quickly became a target for Team Sky, which is British owned and funded and aims to produce a British winner of the Tour de France in the coming years.
“It has been an amazing year for me and my ride at the Tour has given me the drive to aim even higher,” Wiggins said. “I know I can continue to develop and Team Sky is the perfect place to make that happen.”
“He is an exceptional athlete – a great performer at a great age,” Brailsford said. “And he will get better still. At Team Sky he can continue to develop, surrounded by some of the coaches and performance experts who have worked with him for years as part of the British Cycling set-up. With his experience he will help us to develop our great young talents too.”
“I agree with Dave that moving to Team Sky is like coming home,” Wiggins added. “I’ll be on a British team with management and coaches who have shaped me as a rider.
“They are instrumental in my achievements so far and I know they are critical for the next part of my career. Team Sky has huge ambitions, not just for the team but for cycling and inspiring the public to ride. It’s an amazing project and the next four years will be very exciting. I’m really looking forward to meeting up in the New Year and preparing for our first season.”
Bradley and Lance fighting for 3rd overall in 2009 Tour