In one of the most anticipated team rollouts in years, Team Sky was officially presented to the world Monday in London.
The well-financed team — backed by the BSkyB television empire of Rupert Murdoch — brings together some of the top names in the sport with the ambitious goal of winning the Tour de France with a British rider within five years.
Despite its British roots, the team boasts an international flavor, with 26 riders from 12 nations. There are eight British riders, anchored by track and road star Bradley Wiggins following his controversial departure from Garmin-Transitions.
While the team includes such riders Edvald Boasson Hagen, Simon Gerrans and Juan Antonio Flecha, the team is placing its hopes in the consistency and promise of Wiggins.
“Team Sky’s mission statement is simple and incredibly ambitious — to produce a British winner of the Tour de France within the next five years,” said team manager Dave Brailsford. “And to become the biggest, best and most admired cycling team in the world.”
Those are lofty goals, but Brailsford is confident he can pull it off.
Brailsford was the brain behind Great Britain’s dramatic rise on the track, culminating with its dominance in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
He’s applying that same acumen — and the strong financial backing of Sky — to the men’s road scene.
While other efforts to create an elite British-centered cycling team have floundered, Brailsford said he’s confident in the Sky push toward glory.
“We started talking a long time ago about setting up a top-level British team, but we needed to reach a critical mass of riders to achieve it,” he said. “Now we are there. We are ambitious but the key thing for us to make sure everything is centered on the rider. We want to treat the riders with dignity and respect so they can be the best they can be.”
The team has instituted a strict, anti-doping policy and carefully screened its riders before recruiting them.
Among the new riders is popular Canadian rider Michael Barry, who is likely to be on the short list for an overdue start in the Tour de France.
The team will make its official debut at the Tour Down Under later this month and hit European roads for the first time with the GP Marseillaise on January 31.
Wiggins will make his Sky debut at Marseillaise and then race the five-day Etoile de Bessèges. The team will also ride at the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman in February.
• Team Sky for 2010: Kurt Asle Arvesen (Saxo Bank), John Lee Augustyn (Barloworld), Michael Barry (Columbia), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia), Sylvain Calzati (Agritubel), Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas), Dario Cioni (ISD), Steve Cummings (Barloworld), Russell Downing (CandiTV), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Chris Froome (Barloworld), Simon Gerrans (Cervélo), Mathew Hayman (Rabobank), Greg Henderson(Columbia), Peter Kennaugh (GB Academy), Thomas Lovkvist (Columbia), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Joker Bianchi), Serge Pauwels (Cervélo), Nicolas Portal (Caisse d’Epargne), Morris Possoni (Columbia), Ian Stannard (ISD), Chris Sutton (Garmin), Ben Swift (Katusha), Geraint Thomas (Barloworld), Davide Vigano (Fuji-Servetto) and Bradley Wiggins (Garmin).