By Nigel Wynn
Welshman Geraint Thomas has given his reaction to the news that Mark Cavendish will be joining him at Team Sky from next season.
"I'm really happy with the news," Thomas said in his blog published on the BBC website. "Most of us on the team, the Brits anyway, knew Cav wanted to come and it was just a matter of his representatives agreeing a deal."
The big question that many fans have been asking since Sky's announcement that they had signed Cavendish is whether the British team can effectively provide a lead-out train for Cavendish and support an overall contender in the shape of Bradley Wiggins at the 2012 Tour de France.
"I think we can accommodate Brad and Cav in our Tour de France team as a lot of our riders can do a mixture of jobs," wrote Thomas. "For instance, this year's Tour line-up included myself and Edvald Boasson Hagen. We can lead out Cav at the finish and we can also climb to help Brad."
"As long as Brad is protected until the final climb, there is not a lot we can do after that," said Thomas.
"It is definitely going to be a challenge with both Brad and Cav in the team but one I think we can meet. And if Cav wins two or three stages, it will take a lot of pressure off."
Sky showed during this year's Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana that it is possible to look after an overall contender and take sprint stages. Edvald Boasson Hagen won stage six of the Tour after being lead-out by Thomas. Wiggins was in sixth in the overall classification at that point.
However, Wiggins crashed out of the Tour the following day, fracturing his collarbone. Thomas waited for his team leader after the crash, losing the white jersey of best young rider in the process.
After the stage, Sky adjusted its aims at the race, giving the riders free reign to join breaks and win stages.
Thomas got himself into an escape group on stage 12 of the Tour to Luz Ardiden, and rode strongly to crest the Tourmalet just behind FDJ's Jeremy Roy. The pair were caught on the descent, but Thomas showed that spending time in the white jersey, leading out Boasson Hagen and looking after Wiggins hadn't dulled his legs.
Boasson Hagen took a further win on stage 17, this time from an escape group.
In the Vuelta, Sky's Chris Sutton won the bunch sprint on stage two after the team's disappointing performance in the opening team time trial. Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins went on to finish the race in second and third overall, with Froome taking the win on stage 17. Froome finished the race just 13 seconds adrift of overall winner Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC).
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