SKY’s the Limit for Wiggins & Co.
As the Olympics bursts into life, the dust is only just settling on possibly Britain’s biggest sporting success this year. LS Sport’s Sam Heath celebrates Bradley Wiggins’ achievement…
Bradley Wiggins’ victory in the Tour de France was nothing short of outstanding. In fact Team SKY’s performance as a whole was something similar to what we saw when the US Postal Team were in charge during Lance Armstrong’s dominant years.
Barring the minor surprise at being beaten in the prologue and the unexpected attack from teammate Chris Froome on stage eleven it was a near perfect tour for the team. Despite being left to fend for himself while the team looked after Wiggins, Mark Cavendish still managed to claim four stage wins, including a spectacular win in the final stage on the Champs-Élysées for the fourth time in a row.
A wonderful team display
Throughout the tour, SKY managed and controlled attacks from Vincenzo Nibali, of Liquigas, and defending champion Cadel Evans from BMC. While Nibali continued to threaten Wiggins for the duration, Evans faded badly from stage eleven where he cracked under the constant pressure of SKY on the gruelling climbs in the Alps.
As a team, they even successfully managed the irrepressible Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, who put in his usual heroics to ensure France had something to smile about when he claimed two stage wins and the polka-dot jersey for being the best climber this year.
SKY were happy to let Voeckler attack regularly knowing that he wasn’t a serious contender for the yellow jersey despite having spent ten days in yellow last year when he surprised everyone with his sheer determination.
The only real danger to Wiggins came from teammate Froome who somewhat bizarrely attacked Wiggins on stage ten, just after they had dropped Evans on the climb up La Toussuire. Due to a so-called “miscommunication”, Froome stood on the pedals and shot past Wiggins and in a matter of seconds had a twenty length lead over Wiggins. A flurry of radio messages followed which resulted in Froome sitting up and waiting but from then on, Wiggins’ path to success was relatively uneventful.
Will Chris Froome be happy to play support role again next year or will he move away to become a rival to Wiggins?
Victory on the time trail that was the penultimate stage confirmed Wiggins would be enjoying some champagne on the way into Paris, but there was still plenty of work to be done in the final few kilometres of the tour.
In a wonderful team display, Wiggins and Team SKY led out Mark Cavendish to secure his fourth consecutive victory of the final stage of the tour ensuring there were three Britons on the podium in Paris, including a British winner for the first time.
As Wiggins now turns his attention to Olympic success, there remain some unanswered questions for next year. Where will Mark Cavendish go? As a man who needs a team built around him, he looks likely to move away from SKY in an attempt to secure his second green jersey for the best sprinter. Will Chris Froome be happy to play support role again next year or will he move away to become a rival to Wiggins?
But the biggest question, can he do it again? We’ll have to wait and see, but it would take a brave man to bet against him.