Garmin-Slipstream's Jonathan Vaughters has denied newspaper reports that Bradley Wiggins has signed for Team Sky, reiterating that the British rider is contracted to his team until the end of 2010.
The Daily Mail reported that Team Sky had negotiated a £2m deal to buy Wiggins out of the final year of his contract.
But when contacted by Cycling Weekly Vaughters said there was no truth in the story adding there had been 'no approach with any monetary figure from Sky'.
And although it is no secret that Team Sky would like to hire Wiggins if he were available, the story caught the team principal Dave Brailsford on the hop. He said: "It's taken us all by surprise that one. We had a Team Sky away day yesterday so were locked in a hotel all day so certainly nothing came from us. There's no comment really from our side, to be honest."
Speculation over Wiggins's immediate future has been rife since his fourth place in the Tour de France in July. Team Sky's stated goal is to challenge for victory in the Tour within five years with a British rider, and Wiggins looks to be a ready-made team leader.
As Cycling Weekly explained in Thursday's magazine, there is no mechanism in place in professional cycling for one team to make an approach for another team's contracted rider, so the Mail story is wide of the mark suggesting the deal would be done between Team Sky and Garmin. According to the UCI, Wiggins would have to negotiate his own way out of his Garmin contract – even if the money were eventually put up by Team Sky – before he could leave.
Vaughters was not drawn on whether he and Wiggins had spoken about negotiating a settlement which would allow the rider to join Team Sky, but reiterated that as things stand, Wiggins has a contract which runs to the end of 2010.
Wiggins is currently preparing for the time trial at the World Championships in Mendrisio next week. He withdrew from the Tour of Britain earlier this week to focus on his goal of winning a medal.
Since finishing fourth in the Tour de France, Wiggins has ridden the Eneco Tour, although he pulled out of the race in bizarre circumstances with just 400 metres to go in the final time trial. Having led at the halfway checkpoint it began to rain so he eased back to avoid crashing on the technical course. However, his directeur sportif Matt White was as surprised as anyone when Wiggins pulled off the course using the deviation road meant for team cars.
White told CW Bradley went full gas to try to win the time trial. He was going very well and was leading at the checkpoint, but then it started to rain and he decided not to take any risks so he backed off.
"It rained a few minutes after the checkpoint and he put it
in the small chainring and eased off. It was a technical circuit with hills and roundabouts and it was more dangerous in the rain. There had been crashes, so I understand backing off and not taking risks. But I was very disappointed he didn’t finish the course."
Wiggins then won the British national time trial championship before heading to the Tour of Britain.
The Daily Mail story comes at the end of a week when Wiggins created headlines by criticising its sister newspaper's columnist, chef James Martin, for his views on cyclists.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday Martin claimed he had enjoyed 'terrorising' a group of cyclists by sneaking up behind them in a quiet electric car before beeping his horn.
On his Twitter page, Wiggins wrote: "James Martin, TV chef, the word c*ck springs to mind. Stick to Ready, Steady Tw*t, mate."
Martin later apologised for his comments.
As for the speculation over Wiggins's future, it's unlikely anything will be resolved until after the World Championships.
Although Vaughters has said he expects Wiggins to honour his contract, with the possibility that Tour de France champion Alberto Contador will be available, Garmin may wish to cash in on the British rider.
Team Sky: As it happens
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Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
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