Sky rides on the front in the Tour de France today from Samatan to Pau, but missing one man. It may be hard to believe now, but the team went from nine to only eight riders with the crash of Kanstantsin Siutsou shortly after the race started in Liège.
"He has sent messages to me and has wished the team all the best," sports director, Sean Yates told Cycling Weekly. "He misses us and we're missing him."
On the twisty roads to Boulogne-sur-Mer in Northwest France, Siutsou crashed and fractured his left tibia. He was only one of three riders who accompanied Wiggins on his winning rides in Paris-Nice, Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné. Losing him ahead of the first mountain stages seemed like a massive blow.
Sky has bounced back well. It took the yellow jersey with Wiggins and ruled the race over the last two weeks.
"I think, obviously, we'd love to have Kosta here. When you're riding along and everyone's attacking, you do sort of think that it would've been a luxury to have him," Richie Porte told Cycling Weekly. "The other guys stepped into that role, like Christian [Knees] and Mick [Rogers] have just killed themselves."
Siutsou was due to ride at the front in the flats and in the first kilometres of the climbs. Without him, as Porte said, the roles have been shifted and the pressure distributed.
The race travelled through the Alps and yesterday, entered the Pyrenees. Siutsou comes from Belorussia, but after a few days in Paris, took a flight back to his base in Villongo, Italy, to be with his wife and two children.
"It's two to three months before he can get on the bike," Yates said. "Most crashes, within a week, you're back on your bike. When you've got to stay in bed for months... You feel damn sorry for the guy."
Yates and Siutsou trade messages about his and the team's progress. It's gone well, even without Siutsou. Wiggins leads by 2-05 minutes over team-mate Froome. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is another 18 seconds back.
"Everyone's improved with the fact that Bradley's in yellow and Froome's in second. It's lifted the whole team, we all know what it does when you have the leader in the team," Yates continued.
"Bernie's [Eisel] been fantastic on the road as a captain in the flat stages. He's a great leader. [Mark Cavendish] Cav's been doing his bit, chipping in and riding on the front, coming back for bottles. We've all adjusted."
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack
Froome not winning this year's Tour is 'very great sacrifice'
Frank Schleck criticises 'boring' Tour de France
Wiggins: Cycling's new boss?
Wiggins still Sky's main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees
Millar's Tour win comes after 'second chance'
Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire
Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance
Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition
Wiggins: 'I'm not some s**t rider that's come from nowhere
Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration
Cavendish enjoying new Tour role
Wiggins taking nothing for granted in 'dream scenario'
Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins
Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France
Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank's Tour
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 14 by Graham Watson
Stage 13 by Graham Watson
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
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