Team Sky starts to form the back-up team for Bradley Wiggins's tilt at Paris-Roubaix in April
Team Sky has a number of experienced Classics men to chose from in order to build a support team for Wiggins’ Paris-Roubaix bid in April, and several key members are currently racing in the Tour of Qatar alongside Wiggins.
The exact formation of the team has yet to be finalised, but Sky’s management will be monitoring riders’ form and assessing how the team gels together in the coming weeks.
“The group’s important and it takes time to form,” Team Sky‘s sports director, Servais Knaven told Cycling Weekly.
“A big part of the group has been racing together for couple of years and they know each other. They know Brad, Brad knows them. The most important thing for Roubaix is to have strong team, a leader, but also different options.”
Wiggins will race Paris-Roubaix, his last event with Team Sky, on April 12.
Knaven won the 2001 Paris-Roubaix thanks to a strong Domo-Farm Frites team with Johan Museeuw, Romain Vainsteins and Wilfried Peeters. The other teams marked Domo’s leaders and took their eyes of Knaven.
Sky had options, too, in 2014. Wiggins was able to take advantage of the team’s strength in numbers to ride to ninth place. Geraint Thomas also was present and rode to seventh.
“We have options with Brad, ‘Yogi’ or Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe, Bernie Eisel, G Thomas, Andy Fenn… We have a strong team, we showed that last year.
“This year, we could be better, more experienced given what we learned from last year when ‘G’ and Brad were up there in the final.”
Part of the group is forming around Wiggins this week in the Tour of Qatar stage race, which includes a time trial today. From its seven-man team in the Middle East, Stannard and Rowe are rising to the top. Yesterday when the winds kicked up the sand on the desert roads and helped split the group, both made it into the lead group.
“It’s not only about Roubaix, it’s the whole block of classics. Brad’s big goal is Roubaix, but if you want to be there in Roubaix, you need decent preparation.
“This race is really important for Brad in the lead-up. He didn’t race a lot last year on the Flemish roads where there’s fighting all day. That’s what he’s getting used to here. You can see it’s not the easiest thing to do.
“He’s getting better with that. He has the power, but it’s not about the power only, it’s the way of racing. He missed the splits here, but we will all be on a different level for Roubaix. It won’t be an issue. In 2011 here, he was in the front groups. He can do it and he will be ready for that in March and April.”
Wiggins has Danny Pate, CJ Sutton and Christian Knees for company in Qatar, but they are racing towards other goals. He will race with Thomas, Eisel and other men that will form part of the Paris-Roubaix group in the coming month.