MAUZAC, France (VN) — A day after Bradley Wiggins said he likely wouldn’t ride any more grand tours in favor of the track, and commented on the harsh nature of the road, the team is still hopeful to retain its British star. Wiggins’ contract with Sky is up at the end of 2014.
He won the 2012 Tour de France, but his relationship with the team hasn’t been smooth — or at least that’s been the perception — since a falling-out with Chris Froome in that Tour, when Froome rode off the front in the Alps. Wiggins was a notable omission from this year’s Tour roster and was not included in 2013 either.
“I’ve kind of done the road now. I’ve bled it dry,” Wiggins said to the BBC. “The road is quite cut-throat. The track feels more like a family and a closer-knit group of people.”
Wiggins has said he favors a return to the track full-time, where he’s already been incredibly successful. He’s won six Olympic medals on the track, three of them golden.
Dave Brailsford, Sky’s principal, remained hopeful the team could hold onto its Tour winner, even offering to help Wiggins on the boards and into the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“We’re talking to Bradley and his management team. Ideally we’d like to find a solution to support him through to Rio,” Brailsford said Friday morning at the team bus. “And exactly what that would look like — I don’t think it would be a normal, straightforward road contract. I think it would be a bit more creative in terms of what would help him get where he needs to be for Rio.”
Asked if he thought Wiggins could get to the level required to win another grand tour, Brailsford said, simply, “Who knows.”
“I think that’s down to him, really. Physically he has, I’m sure. But it’s hard work to get ready for a grand tour,” Brailsford said. “If you’re focused on trying to develop team pursuit-specific ability, maybe you go more towards prologues, time trials … If he can make the sacrifices of going to altitude, the weight control, all the other things that you need to do in order to ride a grand tour, I think that only he can answer that.”
Sky management has not selected a team for the Vuelta a España yet, Brailsford said. There were initial reports that both Froome and Wiggins could ride in the Vuelta, Froome looking to atone for crashing out at this Tour and Wiggins to prepare for a run at the UCI world time trial championships later this season.
Sky has demonstrated its ability to help foster track riders alongside its stable of road cyclists. “Certainly I think he’s made it quite clear himself that he’d like to finish in Rio. And if you want to get to the level required … Then you’re going to have to focus on it. Like Geraint [Thomas] and Pete Kennaugh did in London.”
Thomas and Kennaugh both rode last year’s Tour for Sky. Wiggins recently took a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in the team pursuit; his English team lost to Australia.