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Wiggins Tour win shows team unity

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Geraint Thomas | 11:42 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins has done something unbelievable by winning the Tour de France, but I know he will be the first to recognise that he would not have been able to achieve his victory without a terrific team behind him.

Part of me wishes I had been there helping him, but I've got plenty more Tour years left in me and the London Olympics will only come once in my lifetime. Going for a second gold on the track was what I wanted to do.

I sent Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome a few texts of congratulations during the race and also texted Brad. I didn't get one back from him, though. He is not the best with a phone.

The Team Sky boys have had many training camps over the last year and have become a close-knit team. That has certainly helped them win the Tour.

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But it is not just about them. Yes, they have to ride the miles, but there is a massive team behind them looking after their bikes, food, travel and sleeping arrangements. With that kind of support, the riders can just concentrate on racing.

Team boss Dave Brailsford and sports director Sean Yates are the brains behind the operation, but there are others who play key roles.

Three or four mechanics look after the bikes and make sure they are ready for the next day's racing. They wash and check them over every night, sorting out any adjustments a rider might want, including wheels for a particular stage.

They can also adjust the gears, putting a 27 sprocket on if there is a steep climb the next day, for example.

There are two Jaguar support cars, with spare bikes on the roof for all the riders. Brad sometimes had two. There is also plenty of space inside for all the spare wheels that we get through.

The cars also hand out food and drink to the riders mid-stage. The 'soigneurs' make up close to 100 bottles of fluid a day, plus little sandwiches and cakes for our feed bags. They wash and dry our kit for us, too, and also give us a massage at the end of every day.

We have numerous physios and doctors to help deal with the post-race aches and pains, making sure we are ready to race the next day, and also have our own chef, Soren.

He works closely with our nutritionist, Nigel, to make sure we all get the right sorts of food, including fresh bread every morning.

We normally have porridge in the mornings and perhaps an omelette. We have energy bars and gels during the race, along with rice cakes and sandwiches to keep us going.

In the evenings, we tend to have pasta, chicken and sometimes fish. Soren tries to change the menu to keep it interesting and does an amazing job!

The food is always ready for us when we come down for dinner, which is nice as we get pretty hungry.

Then there is the team bus and its driver, Claudio!

Travelling on the bus can be fun but there is not much discussion after a day's racing unless someone has done something ridiculous or something major has happened.

Sometimes a rider may head off in the team car to get to the hotel quicker for a massage. The rest chill out in the bus and chat about a load of old rubbish like any normal person.

Brad is usually good fun with his impressions of everyone, from fellow riders to the chef and even team boss Dave. Bernie Eisel is also a pretty light-hearted guy. It is important to have people like that in the team so the atmosphere is not serious all the time.

Most of the time, everyone drifts off into their own little world and it can get quite quiet, particularly when you are into the second week of a big Tour. Everyone is so tired.

I am sure there are lots of exhausted bodies today, but the team's performance has been inspirational. It has certainly motivated Great Britain's track cycling team to do well at the Olympics.

I'll be back with another blog before my race in the team pursuit to let you know how my preparations have been going.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for that interesting insight to life on the road.

    Good luck at the Olympics.

  • Comment number 2.

    Great team, I got goose bumps when Wiggo led Cav out in the last stage, all aboard the Sky train, WOOP WOOP!

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks Geraint, that was a good insight.

    It makes you realise that it's just 9... 20... 30 normal blokes all pulling together to acheive extraordinary things!

    Which is what any team sport should be, especially a highly professional operaion as Team Sky so obviously is.

    GOOD LUCK IN THE TEAM PURSUIT!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Is this article a joke? Eisel gets one miniscule mention, but apart from that no mention of Boassen-Hagen, Porte, Rogers, Knees, Sivsotv. An article about team unity lol
    Froome will leave if he wants to win the tour and Cav has already been told he can leave. That leaves 1 British rider in a British team sponsored by an Australian.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am sure you remember how not very long ago, Team Sky was looked down on as a hopeless little Brit pipe-dream. I thought they might battle for a while to make an impression on the more established teams, and that would create a problem in trying to attract the best riders, which would hold back the team further, etc etc.

    Silly me. After the way the team bossed the Tour this year, any serious rider is now going to want to be part of the set up. It will be sad if Cavendish does leave for a team more geared to the green jersey, but that will surely only open the door for more riders with GC ambitions. And perhaps most importantly, Sky have laid down a benchmark for teamwork, hopefully they will be able to continue to select riders who buy into this ethos.

  • Comment number 6.

    @4

    "An article about team unity lol"

    Actions speak much louder than words. Have you not been watching for the past 3 weeks? Froome is five years younger than Wiggins - his time will come and he knows that. Cav may well leave Sky at the end of the year but the fact that its no certainty speaks volumes - how many times over the last 20+ years have we seen the Yellow Jersey lead out his team's sprinter in Paris? You many also have noticed Michael Rogers and Edvald Boasson Hagen celebrating with Wiggins after the stage finale yesterday - they didn't seem to be as worried about nationality and team work as you seem to be. You may also be interested to know that in total Team Sky have a rosta of 28 riders 10 of whom are British. The last time I checked 10 minus 2 didn't equal 1.

    Nice to see you demonstrate your ignorance re. sponsorship as well. Team Sky are sponsored by a British company - not by an Australian individual (and if its Rupert Murdoch you are referring to he is now a nationalised American anyway).

  • Comment number 7.

    Any inference that Cav is not a team player is an insult to the bloke and shows a distinct lack of knowledge from the people that insinuate it. The bloke is a class act, first thing out of his mouth in any interview is to thank his team, these attempts to belittle his ambition whilst holding Wiggins up as a shining example of how far determination and ambition can take you are particularly sad.

    Cavendish is a proven winner, but also a fantasic teammate, no other world champions would have so willingly given themselves to the water bottle carrying role (Imagine Ballan, Hushovd, Cippolini, Bettini, Evans or Armstrong doing it)

    Wiggins achievement in winning the tour is huge, but don't forget the reigning world champion has been bringing home the bacon for a few years now and will win 15 races a year at least for the next 5 years. With his track record he deserves a team to support that and he won't stop being British just because he doesn't ride for SKY.

    I hope Cav moves teams, gets the full support he deserves and continues to blow everyone away in sprints for years to come.

  • Comment number 8.

    Geraint, do you have any plans for the next 3 Grand Tours? Do you know about who is going to be included for them or is that too far ahead?

    Good luck for the TP at the games, and hope to see you on the road again soon!

  • Comment number 9.

    4.At 13:42 23rd Jul 2012, PGB Addick wrote:
    Is this article a joke?
    An article about team unity lol
    _____________________________

    I think the point of the article was to enlighten us on what happens behind the scenes.
    I dont see why you call the article a joke ?

    Dont know if Cavendish or Froome will leave , but if they do they will be lucky to get in a team as good as Sky.

  • Comment number 10.

    @6 and @4: I believe it's James Murdoch who backs Team Sky, neglected the fact that it's actually the company and not the person, who is in fact British and was born in Wimbledon.

  • Comment number 11.

    THE Team behind the team. Something anyone should be proud to be a part of, also the clip of the guys in the team car celebrating the win on Sunday was classic.

    Those who watched the tour coverage were already aware of the sacrifices by the cyclists to support their team leader and sprinter. There is so much more to this well deserved success.

  • Comment number 12.

    Looking forward to seeing Geraint doing the Renshaw job at the TdF in 2013.

  • Comment number 13.

    A wonderful performance from the whole of Team Sky and the culmination of years of hard work, meticulous planning and preparation. I look forward to it continuing for many years to come as well as seeing how the other teams in the peloton respond.

    One question for GT: after the success of Team Sky throughout the year whilst you have predominately been focussing on track work for the Olympics (which is awesome and I look forward to seeing you on the track) are you concerned about getting your place back in the squad for next years TdF?

  • Comment number 14.

    I really think Wiggins should light the olympic flame for what has just done... This would be a great boost for Team GB...

  • Comment number 15.

    Team Sky is not just the best cycling team in the world, they are the most clinically effective, professional sports team to come out of the UK in living memory. I thnk that we are about to see is that the same can be said about TeamGB cycling. Goodbye the well meaning amateurs of the past, these guys are winners.
    Why would any rider want to leave? Over the past 3 weeks, which other team came close? The best riders should stay and fight for their position.

  • Comment number 16.

    I was at the first 3 days of the Tour in Liege with some others showing our support, Scott the photographer took our picture, its on the team web site, now today its big news and everybody is an expert, I hope everyone gets on their bikes. well done to all involved and all who follow.

  • Comment number 17.

    G for you my best wishes for the coming events. @8WristbandMan

  • Comment number 18.

    Bradley Wiggins. I can find no superlatives that are adequate for his achievement. And what a great team, where is there a photo of them all.

    Shame the Brits don't know which way up the Jack should fly. Upside down is a call for distress.

  • Comment number 19.

    The collective and individual achievements over the past 3 weeks have set a new bench mark... Long may it continue...

  • Comment number 20.

    Tough call for Cav as he is well integrated with Sky. But IMO a rider of his unmatched calibre: current World Champion and arguably the greatest road sprinter of all time, deserves to be leader of another team set up like HTC. He's got Merckx's stages record to target after all. Team Sky2?

  • Comment number 21.

    Let us rejoice Wiggo wins the Tour been watching and waiting for 30 years myself can't still quite believe it if the olympics is half as good we are in for a cracker go GB:)

  • Comment number 22.

    Post olympics.. What next for Wiggo? Backwards blindfold up everest on a unicycle?
    Great team, great season, amazing perfrmances all around and as for anyone who knocks the team spirit, you just need to look at Wiggo overuling team plans to lead out cav to the win on stage 16. Wiggo was happy to play teammate as well as leader. Hope GB win the Olympics and Brad the TT.

  • Comment number 23.

    We missed you at this years Tour G :-(
    There was me with my Wales flag and Wales flag cycling jersey screaming on Brad and Team Sky in Chartres, and on the Champs Élysées and no end of people kept coming up to me to ask if there was a Welshman in the race.........there better be next year because I'll be there again to roar you on.

    Thanks for an enlightening look at Team Sky, but also thanks for opening things up for all our new fans of two wheels and Lycra! Some (by the looks of things on here) are still learning, and some want to learn more about what makes this fabulous sport tick, and openness can only help to further attract more people to our sport.

    All the very best G for the Olympics, and we'll be watching with interest (only got tickets for the Time Trial and not the velodrome sadly)

  • Comment number 24.

    Many people have talked about Cav leaving Sky. The only reason he would do this is if he wants to win the green points jersey in the Tour. This year he won 3 stages and could have won up to 5 had he not been involved in crashes early on. The sprinters' stages come in the first week of the tour and over the last few days - team Sky can easily support a sprinter over these stages without any negative effect on GC, just as Team Telekom used to do with Zabel, Rijs/Ulrich. Particularly in the first week it's no bad thing for leading GC contenders to be at the front of the peloton (as would be the case in a team supporting a sprinter) as it's the best way to avoid being involved in crashes. If Cav does decide to go for the green jersey in future he'll probably need a team designed around that, as the intermediate sprints need to be won as well. Personally I think Cav is more likely to want to beat Merkx' stage win record than he is to want to win the green jersey on muliple occasions (he has only won it once so far and has no chance of beating Erik Zabel's record). If he stays with Sky he can easily grab 4 Tour stages a year and break merkx' record. Also he'll be in a British team which will support him in all the other classics throughout the year - pro road cycling is not just about the grand tours.
    If anyone's future is in doubt at Sky it's Brads: next year's Tour will have fewer individual time trial kilometers and more tough mountain stages. Once the parcours has been officially released I have no doubt that Chris Froome will be made Team Leader for next year's event. Will Brad want to play a supporting role, or will the competitor in him want to make him go for the victory, in which case he may have to change teams?

 

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