Ahead of the team’s anticipated pre-Christmas launch, more details of Bradley Wiggins‘s new development squad emerged today, as GB technical director Shane Sutton confirmed it will be heavily backed by Sky.
“Team Wiggins”, which aims to support the Tour de France champion’s return to the track in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympics, is expected to be official unveiled in the next two weeks.
Alongside Rapha and Pinarello, Sky will support the UCI Continental-ranked outfit, but the team won’t take the broadcaster’s name as the sport’s governing body’s rules do not permit two squads bearing the same sponsor’s name.
“It’s being backed by Sky, they’ve been fantastic in this partnership, and across the board on the road and track, and hopefully that will continue,” said Sutton.
A subsidary of Sky’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, were previously rumoured to be the squad’s title sponsor, although that has been strenuously denied by those charged with setting up the squad on Wiggins’s behalf.
Sources close to British Cycling indicate that it may simply be called Team Wiggins.
“You’ll have to ask Brad that [the team name],” added Sutton. “Maybe it’s Team Wiggins…I don’t know! At this moment in time we’re getting it over the line.”
Wiggins is currently in Mallorca on a Team Sky training camp, but was pictured (above) wearing a plain Rapha jersey on Saturday.
As revealed in October by CW, GB Podium Programme riders Andy Tennant, Mark Christian and Steven Burke have signed for Team Wiggins.
Owain Doull announced this week that he turned down a move to French WorldTour Europcar to ride for the new squad.
Jon Dibben was linked to American team Bissell, but the squad’s 12-man 2015 roster was released this week without him on it, suggesting he will also join.
Together with Wiggins, who is expected to switch to the squad in the UCI’s permitted transfer window in June, that makes five riders.
And Sutton confirmed that British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme’s nine endurance riders* for 2014-2015 will also represent the squad when required.
“The emphasis is to try and produce the next Brad Wiggins,” added Sutton. “Basically, we’ll take riders who are going well in the Academy and drop them in alongside Brad and the other elite boys on the road.
“That’s part of the inspiration to have a team like that. It’s not just to inspire the rest of the nation, it’s to give those riders on the periphery the opportunities and make them aware of what it will take for them to be successful.
“I think it will be a successful model, it’s keeping the talent under one roof which is a good thing.”
* The nine riders are Germain Burton, Gabriel Cullaigh, Scott Davies, Matt Gibson, Jake Kelly, Chris Latham, Chris Lawless, Mark Stewart, Oliver Wood.