Sky riding to protect Wiggins
The black kits and yellow helmets of Mark Cavendish’s Sky teammates surged to the front of the bunch late in Thursday’s stage, but it wasn’t necessarily for the world champion.
While Cavendish looked to be beneficiary of the push, the team was also looking to protect Bradley Wiggins in the face a string of crashes over the past few days.
Sky is hoping to keep Wiggins out of trouble through the first week, and part of that game is positioning him in the potentially dangerous “flat” stages that punctuate the Tour’s first week.
“The game plan is stay safe, stay out of trouble,” said Sky sport director Sean Yates. “If you’re not in the right place, or in the wrong place at the wrong time; then everything can be lost in one moment.”
Sky has been walking on eggshells all week, hoping that Wiggins can get past the hazards of the first week to emerge well positioned for a run at the yellow jersey in the decisive second half of the Tour. Last year, Wiggins crashed out with a broken clavicle in the first week, something the team is obviously desperately trying to avoid.
“Bradley had bad luck last year,” Yates said. “We want to avoid a repeat of that at all costs. You never know; you’re on a knife’s edge all the time.”