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Cav's arrival is great news for Team Sky

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Geraint Thomas | 23:04 UK time, Tuesday, 11 October 2011

So it's official. Mark Cavendish is coming to Team Sky! And I'm really happy with the news.

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. As far as I'm aware, it wasn't about Cav trying to get a load of money, which seems to be the opinion of some.

Of course, Cav will change the dynamic of the team. He is a strong character, as I'm sure you are all aware, but he is also a great leader. Sometimes he comes across as arrogant but he is a nice guy and certainly appreciates all the help and sacrifices his team-mates make for him.

I don't think his arrival will change my responsibilities within the team too much. I will still have a key role to play, especially in the Classics. And whenever it comes to a sprint finish, we always try to set up our sprinter, so why not lead out the best?

However, having the fastest man in the world in the team will put more pressure on us to make an impact at the start of stages now. This year, we lent a hand to the chase at times but we didn't take a lead because we did not have an out-and-out favourite for the sprint. That changes now!

Cavendish shows off the rainbow jersey after his men's road race win at the World Championships. Photo: PA

Cav's presence will also affect the way we approach theTour de France. In the last couple of years, we built the team around Bradley Wiggins and focused on winning the General Classification. Now we need a lead-out man or two for the sprints.

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. For instance, this year's Tour line-up included myself and Edvard Boasson Hagen. We can lead out Cav at the finish and we can also climb to help Brad.

Christian Knees and Juan Antonio Flecha can ride all day on the flat or climbs, too, so I don't think we need to take too many out-and-out climbers. As long as Brad is protected until the final climb, there is not a lot we can do after that.

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.

There is that old cliché that success breeds success. I'm a firm believer that if Cav is winning the biggest races on the calendar, then confidence will spread through the team.

Just look at how the team has grown over the last couple of years. Cav's arrival, along with a host of other strong riders, is only going to build on that.

One of the other new signings is Cav's best mate, Bernie Eisel. He is a great rider and 'road captain' and will add to the experience in the team, which will be vital given that race radios are not allowed next year.

All in all, these are very exciting times for Team Sky and I can't wait until next year!


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    My only concern in regards to Cav joining Sky, can Sky offer the same level of support as HTC did in terms of riders in the train. As Wiggs is the team leader, will he do his share of the work in the train to pull back the breakway or will he be allowed to sit in the Pel with a support rider to conserve energy. If so, this will mean 2 less riders for Cav to control the Pel but as Cav has shown over the last 2 years, he doesn't really need a leadout man

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with mpjacko although am interested to know the situation with Renshaw - Why he didn't go to sky. Great that Eisel is with him though! Watching how Sky manage Wiggins and the sprint is going to make for a very exciting Tour de France!

  • Comment number 4.

    A little harsh above! But it is interesting that there is no mention by Geraint of the real revelation of this season in the Sky squad - Chris Froome. In the Vuelta, imo, he could certainly have won had he not been delayed helping Wiggo, who obviously had a fabulous ride, but Froome was clearly stronger. Froome was obviously a loyal teammate and followed the original plan. But I wonder next year whether Froome will get a chance to ride a grand tour for himself. Presumably at the TDF Sky will go for Brad and Mark as a double threat. Might Froome be allowed to ride with the full support of the team at the Giro for example?

  • Comment number 5.

    I think Cav has said that Renishaw is almost as fast as him over the last 200m so it makes sense for Renishaw to try on his own to win stages instead of being Cav leadout man

    I'm glad radios won't be allowed next year. I feel these give the big names an advantage during a mountain stage. It means that if there is a breakaway, it will take longer for them to react but also allows a rider who is further back in the standings to close the gap or even take yellow if the leaders don't respond in time. I feel radios prevent this from happening and stops many breakways. The big guns will have to think more

  • Comment number 6.

    #3 Renshaw has already jumped - as he wants to win races himself now.

    The biggest danger for Cav is that there are now several riders (Greipl, Renshaw to name two) who want above all to beat him, and know him well enough having ridden with him at HTC. It's not that Cav needs all these guys with him as he showed in the world's when he did it virtually alone in the last 1km, but that he had some of the best riders on his team and now they are against him.

    Cav has also changed the tour. Zabel won 7 consecutive green jerseys, some years without ever winning a stage as it didn't matter. Cav has changed the way it now runs, so that everyone wants to win a stage and the race for green is significant. Far more people who are real sprinters are wanting to compete with Cav.

    He's class, but the game is catching up, and I don't think he'll win as many with sky as he did with HTC, simply because the competition is better and more people are planning on how to take him on (again as evidenced in the world's where most teams seemed to have a stop Cav plan).

  • Comment number 7.

    Cav's gone where I (and most people) expected him to go but it does leave some interesting questions about the make up of the GT squads next season, especially with Froome also signing for 3 years.

    Personally I think for this years Tour they will only go with 3 out and out climbers (inc Wiggins, Froome and possibly Xandio) two strong men who can ride all day (Flecha and 1 other), Eddie Bosan Hagen and 3 sprinters (Cav, Eisel and perhaps Sutton). This is of ofcourse dependent on the course not changing from what was accidentally released yesterday. But I do think trying to bring home the Yellow and Green in the same Tour is a massive ask and could end up without either.

    RE: Mark Renshaw, I think he wanted an oppertunity to see if he can compete as a main sprinter rather than be a leadout man. I think it could be an interesting season with him, Cav and Griepel all looking for wins. I know renshaw was very disapointed to miss out on the Australia squad for the Worlds and maybe he felt he needs his stock to rise to be taken more seriously as a sprinter in his own right. Also with no team in the mold of HTC in the pelaton (I.e focusing on the green jersey) its probably difficult to find a team where he would want to be a lead out man.

  • Comment number 8.

    Cavendish has already cemented himself into the hall of fame and record books but this year will be his hardest yet.

    The team wont be solely out to give him a victory. Seeing the HTC train in the last 5km was phenomenol at times, although Cav did it on his own at times HTC put him in great positions time after time. WIll SKY be able to do it??? Not so sure.

    Really don't know how they'll accomodate both riders successfully. Will there be disharmony and egos if Brad drops of the pace early on and Cav wins a couple of stages or if Brad is leading and Cav fails to win any of the early stages????

    Lots and lots of pressure on Brailsford now and hopefully this will be the year Cav takes another step to become the greatest of all time!!!!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Just going to echo most of the comments all ready made above. I'm torn with this move, on one hand I'm happy to see Cav come to sky with the rest of the British crowd. On the other hand I'm worried how this will impact Wiggos chance of winning the tour next year. Obviously having the best sprinter in the world in the team they are going to have to try and accommodate him the best they can.

    I am just worried the extra effort needed to train Cav to the win will really hurt Wiggo. Lets face it Wiggo needs every little bit of an advantage he can get to win the tour. I would have liked to see one more year and one big push with a team just built around him. Sadly i think Wiggos chances of ever winning the tour are fading.

  • Comment number 10.

    As highlighted in Cycling weekly Cav likes his custom bikes his old Scott and his current Specalized. Are Pinerello going to do something similar for Cav or will team Sky move to Specalized (Sky still have one year left on their Pinerello deal). Wiggo did comment on twitter a few weeks back that he had bought this years Pinerello is this a sign that Sky may be riding differant bikes next year linked to the Cav deal.

  • Comment number 11.

    There was an interesting point made by cav himself stating that actually now GC contenders tend to want to stay up front in the final 10km anyway and that wiggins wants to be part of the lead out. Like G says here on the final big climbs it's not going to be like the armstrong days. Even if wiggins only has the one rider like froome in the vuelta that should do a good job.
    It's an interesting challenge and I am looking forward to who sky take to the tour and other races and the amazing results I am sure we will see.

  • Comment number 12.

    thanks for welcoming cav and eisel to your team; sure they can contribute wins and cav is a good man; he's passionate and outspoken (but not PROUD )that's why sometimes people misinterpreted him; GOODLUCK TO TEAMSKY

  • Comment number 13.

    Haventaclue52: Yeah I agree there on the team selection though I'd expect Uran to be the third climber with Flecha,Knee and Pate as your three strong men and I can see it likely that Swift will get the call again for sprinting. The it is conveivable they will opt for a 4th strong man

  • Comment number 14.

    Still amazes me the demise of HTC as a successful and high-profile team.

    Cav has made the obvious choice but can SKY now dominate or will the team not be greater than the sum of its parts. Expectations will be high.

    But should they dominate there will be a huge target on their backs and we will wait to see who steps up to rival them.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ian, I think it depends what they have promised Uran and Froome in terms of oppertunities to win GC's. I went for Xandio because he is more of a domestique and I think Uran may fancy a shot at the GC in either the Giro or Vuelta. I think if Froome or Uran is in the Giro squad I wouldn't expect to see them at the Tour. I think they deffinatley need 3 sprinters and Bosan Hagen if they are to take 4 or 5 stage victories needed to be in for the Green Jersey.

  • Comment number 16.

    At 14.

    Same too. How much more coverage and team wins did the owner / sponsers want to keep putting money in. I read somewhere that HTC needed 1million a year to keep running. Is this true? if so, it's a sad day when one of the top teams can't find the money to keep running.

  • Comment number 17.

    I see I'm not the only one with reservations about Sky sponsoring this team. Of course I wish them well and am excited about the future for British cycling but in the long term I can see TV coverage being on Sky only and therefore I and many others will miss out.

  • Comment number 18.

    I firmly believe there'll be no split loyalties in team sky. Here's why:
    On a flat stage both the GC and the Sprint contenders have pretty much the same objective - to chase down any breakaways (esp. if there's GC contenders in there - removing radios will enhance that by making it harder to track your rivals) and make sure you're at the front of the peloton so you don't get caught up in any crashes.
    On a mountain stage GC riders will be doing their thang, while sprinters will be back in l'Autobus doing theirs. There's no real conflict of interest there.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think this is will be a wrong move for Cav as well as Sky. There wont be the same focus on sprinting in Sky as there was in HTC so will need to spread the cover more thinly. I'm glad that Cav didn't hold out for more money (as per Gerraint's comments above) I'm fairly new to cycling (watching not riding) so don't fully understand the politics of it all, so wont confess to actually know what i'm talking about. Sky have got/had some promising young riders that seem capable in the sprints. I wonder what's going to happen to them in the future, and also the GB squad (although the bonus of that is that maybe they'll be used to riding with each other) so might make them harder to beat. Good luck to ALL the Sky riders for next year :)

    Steve :-D

  • Comment number 20.

    Like a couple of others here, a bit disappointed not to see any mention of how Chris Froome fits into the picture. I can quite understand if Brad Wiggins is still the main man for the Tour, but surely Froome has put himself into the frame as a GC contender and be nice to know that the team recognises that.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think it will be some time before any team are likely to commit so much resource throughout a GT (or a season) to one sprinter as HTC have done over the last few seasons. Wherever Cav went I think he'd have to have accepted less assistance.

    I really hope they don't commit too much resource to Cav in the Tour (I wouldn't be surprised if he actually drops out midway through the race to prepare for the Olympics). Two key signings I'd expect to see in the Tour are Porte and Siutsou who are good on both the flat and mountains.

  • Comment number 22.

    @Jaunty Monty
    "I wouldn't be surprised if [Cav] actually drops out midway through the race to prepare for the Olympics"
    I would - I'd be astounded! Would you be surprised if Wayne Rooney dropped out of a world cup squad to play in the olympics? The Grand Tours are a much bigger thing than the olympics, particularly from a revenue point of view.

  • Comment number 23.

    MPJAcko #16

    I think you'll find that it's closer to 8m to fund a full year (if not slightly more) Not sure if that includes the cost of the riders wages or not though.

    Steve :-D

  • Comment number 24.

    If the team can make this work with Brad, Froome and Cav in the team then the rest of pro cycling had better watch out because we have contenders for not only the Grand Tours but the Classics as well!
    Stick it to 'em Team Sky, make 'em suffer!
    Just a shame about the Sky thing, but hey if they win then who gives a............

  • Comment number 25.

    I have to say I think this is a bad move for Cavendush. He's a rising star and should be the focal point of a team, at Sky he'll just be a cog in the Wiggins machine.

  • Comment number 26.

    @Chris Soanes
    I'd actually agree with Jaunty Monty. Cav has said himself that the priority next year is the Olympics so wouldn't be at all surprised if he dropped out when the tour hit the mountains. He's done it before so why not again? Cav has a list of goals and Olympics is now top of the list.

    On the Froome debate I would think that he will be given full support for the Giro.

    There is so much potential talents in the Sky squad that it is hard to know how they are going to balance keeping everybody happy. No mention of Rigoberto Uran for example and also where Boasson Hagen fits into the big picture now.

  • Comment number 27.

    25.At 13:38 12th Oct 2011, Ross Quinn wrote:
    I have to say I think this is a bad move for Cavendush. He's a rising star and should be the focal point of a team, at Sky he'll just be a cog in the Wiggins machine.


    Can't see it being an issue to me it would seem likely that the goal for Sky at the Tour becomes stages and green with Froome and Brad taking main focus on the Giro and Vuelta (which way roudn I don't care). Sky themselves have said they needed to change there apporoach to the season after focusing too much on the tour last year and this gives an obvious way to do so. Cav will ride one or both of teh otehrs as well (although probably not next year with Olympics) but wont be the focus point of the team in those. Sky could do with a grand tour jersey win and they wont get a better option than Cav in Green and train with Hagen, Thomas and Eisel is very strong to set him up.

  • Comment number 28.

    I would be very suprised it Cav drops out of the TDF 2012, esp since he will be going for his 4th straight Champ Elysees win. I don't think any rider has done this before?

    Plus, Cav was much leaner this year so the mountain stages takes less out of him

  • Comment number 29.

    Team Sky will continue to prove others belittling assumptions about them wrong in 2012, just like they already have after people said they couldn't place a man on a podium let alone win a GT, couldn't transfer marginal gains from the track to the WorldTour and would not live up to their hype when launched in 2010.

    Well, they have lived up to that hype, top team ranking and are probably about to top UCI WorldTour Team Ranking too. I see no reason to believe anything anyone says about what they can't do. If the biggest moan people have left against them is having too many options to win races and the wrong sponsor, they've kind of done all they need to do on the road. It's now up to every other team to step up.

  • Comment number 30.

    I should clarify that I think theres a good chance he will complete the Tour but that it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't.

    Teams have to be understanding to personal goals and to Cav the Olympics is an important goal. In the world of cycling an Olympic medal may be a long way behind a GT jersey, a classics win or a world title but in the UK its prestigious. Ask Geraint why he is considering skipping the spring classics and Tour to prepare properly for the Team Pursuit.

    It may depend on how Sky are placed in the standings. If Wiggins (and Froome) are out of GC contention early on then clearly their focus will switch to Cav. If Cav is out of contention for the Green and he is only left with Eisel to help him through the mountains will he decide the lure of another Champ Elysees win outweighs his prep for the Olympics. I'm pretty sure no one else has ever won back to back wins in Paris so he already has the record.

  • Comment number 31.

    Cav is world class so he should be alright without an entire team built around him but for me this puts an end to the prospect of Wiggins winning – or even getting on the podium come to that – the Tour. Smacks a bit of Zabel and Ullrich and we all know what happened there. How often did we see Ullrich isolated after all his support had blown early on key stages?

    Wiggins is good, not great. He has potential to win a GT but I can't see him doing it unless the GC is the focus for his team. In truth I'd say Sky would be best with Wiggins targeting the Giro, but the Brits are so Tourcentric I can't see that happening.

  • Comment number 32.

    I'd be astounded if Cav dropped out of the Tour to focus on the Olympics! He will want to defend his Green jersey and that means completing the race distance. I think he will only compete in the road race (and not on the track) at the olympics so the Tour will be good preparation and most of his main rivals will be there too.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm slightly surprised that Cav signed for Sky especially after the barny Cav and Wiggo had at the last Olympics!!!!! Cav was not a happy man at all!!! But clearly as shown at the world championships they have buried the hatchet and worked together wonderfully to win what can only be described a grandstand finish!!!

    As for Cav's lead out, it won't be as good or as dominant as HTC last year but the previous year at the tour Renshaw was sent home for the head-butt! He just 'free-wheeled' his way to victory as he had no lead out... And I believe he may well just do it again!!!! So all this talk about 2-3 stage wins for him, I think is rubbish!!!! This guy has been described as the best ever by his opponents!!! Cav I'm sure will be looking at 6 wins at least but he will probably only get 5 like always. The man isn't even peaking yet (in terms of cycling age) and already has 20 wins!

    Sky are the most thorough and professional team out there!!!! They will make this work and it will be managable... just up Cav and Wiggo to step up and be counted! Make no mistake these guys are good enough to do this....

  • Comment number 34.

    Delighted Cav has joined Sky but feel that this may hamper Brad's ambition to win the Tour. On the plus side, if the leak is correct, there will be twoTT's with a total of 90km plus a prologue. This will greatly enhance BW's chances. On the negative side, will Sky's strategy for BW in the mountains be as before which is basically time trialling up the mountain with his power figures dictating or will/can Sky work on his explositvity, or lack of it, in order to follow attacks from Contador and others? The answer to this,is in my opinion vital to his chances.

  • Comment number 35.

    Cav AND Brad are gna be worse off. no winners, IMO..

  • Comment number 36.

    Also, Cavendish is better a better equipped sprinter than Wiggins/Froome are GC riders... Yet Cav only has one person working just for him. Cav should be the centre of the team...

  • Comment number 37.

    no to sky (cycling team)

  • Comment number 38.

    while cavendish is one if not the best sprinter nowadays Wiggins will NEVER win a tour de france or even giro. Only in la vuelta he'll have the chance he blew away this year. He's not a top class cyclist like schleck, contador or cadel. Give froome a chance to grow and he might make it. Wiggins can make the top ten but that's all, stop doing with british cycling chances what you do with football.

  • Comment number 39.

    Wiggins is a world class cyclist probably Britains best ever; olympic medals and 3rd and 4th in GT's to prove it!!
    Cav is currently the world's best sprinter.
    Just hope that Sky can find a way to give them both the support they deserve!!

  • Comment number 40.

    The tour is likely to be wiggins, boasson hagen, cavendish, eisel, flecha, knees, uran, zandio. There are a lot of other possibilities for the final place, maybe froome. if that was the 9, i'd be convinced that wiggins and cav have a good chance if flecha and knees controlled the race, eisel/eddy bos/cav as sprint train, and zandio, uran, froome and wiggins can take the race.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think Cavendish will focus on the Olympics. Two reasons:
    1) The obvious one. It's on home turf. Impossible to resist.
    2) He was the only track cyclist without a medal from Beijing. He has unfinished business to attend to.

    Expect Sky to be at the front of the peloton throughout Le Tour next year, reasons explained by post #18 (Chris Soames). Whether it's actually going to be optimal for race and stage wins, they'll certainly be getting television time by being in the thick of any stage, any time, anywhere. The only difference is that Cav's train will be shorter and Wiggins (or Broome) might not have as many domestiques as he would in a team focused only on the GC. I think the latter might be more significant than the former.

  • Comment number 42.

    mpjacko: To be honest, no he won't get the same support at HTC. At HTC even the GC contenders did the lead out. If Brad is to go for the win/podium on the GC then he can't afford to spend energy in the lead out train.

    It takes a lot to ride at 60kph!! At HTC their GC guys were 'top 10' potential, whereas Brad wants the best possible... But at least it will give Brad the chance to sit at the front of the peloton without too much fighting (it's an unwritten rule, the team leaders get to sit behind their team if they are riding).

    heracyclist: Of course Froome is an exceptional rider and who knows what could have happened. Hindsight is a wonderful thing... I'm not sure what Froome's plans are next year, but what ever happens he will be right up there!

    It's definitely going to be a challenge but really exciting?! The sole British team on the pro scene with the best Brits riding, going for stages and jerseys, surely that’s exciting?! There also comes a point when it's down to the leader to ride for themselves. Just look at Cadel Evans, he won the tour when he rode the last 10km or so up the Galibier.

    mpjacko - I've no idea how much it costs to run a team. but I agree with you. HTC have the current world champs on the road and TT. They win stages in nearly every race they do, and its sad to see such a great team like that stop running. At least Green Edge is now on the scene, lets hope more continue to back cycling teams!

  • Comment number 43.

    Great news! My favourite team is getting better and better.

  • Comment number 44.

    ...does this discussion lack a little bit of overlong dumb amateur's view in strange English? All right then, here we go, monologue time! Again. (I tried not to... I really did... still feel a little embarrassed about the last one but... it's so tempting. Because you cycling people really got me wondering again. I apologize in advance!)

    Despite having a little crush on Mr Thomas here (and therefore usually being happy when he is), I somehow like the fact that there seem to be more sceptics around this blog than in other places. And I like the fact that there seem to be different reasons for being sceptical, depending on from which side you look at it. I like variety.
    Now, my personal reasons are strictly fan's perspective and highly unprofessional, since I'm not necessarily that much of a fan of 'winners' but rather tend to fall for the 'triers'. And they don't really concern a potential green vs. yellow jersey conflict (I do fear a little for Bradley Wiggins, though - in TdF terms he's definitely one of the great triers, and yes, I like it when triers eventually become winners) but rather the mentioned dynamic of the whole team. (Despite having a little crush on Mr Thomas here, I actually do mean the whole team.)
    The thing is: I like Mark Cavendish and I like Bradley Wiggins but in 2011 I came to like Team Sky even better than any of them. Or both of them. Together.
    And what I liked best about Team Sky in 2011 - apart from amazingly disciplined team work in general - was a certain flexibility in tactics that seemed to actually pay tribute to the wide range of talent and potential they've got there... wins, podiums, jerseys, breakaway performances by Froome, Wiggins, Sutton, Boasson Hagen, Swift, Uran, Thomas himself, etc. - you'll know better than me. Some of that may have been due to unlucky circumstances in the first place (like Wiggins crashing out of the Tour of course) but on the whole it added up to a pretty amazing and very entertaining team performance, I think, with quite a lot of rather unexpected and memorable moments. And then there was this feeling of something uniquely well balanced growing and growing together (especially but not only in that TdF/Eneco/Hamburg squad).
    With Cavendish in a team - or even more so with Cavendish and Wiggins in a team - there won't be much room left for that, will there? When everybody's busy controlling the race, keeping the peloton together, making a bunch sprint happen, keeping someone out of trouble, saving energy for the final lead out, being loyal to not only one but two leaders... with two different goals.
    I know that cycling is always all about team work but that's not the point. The point is that to me this really doesn't seem to add to but to take away from the most interesting range of tactical options (that is: what to work for but also how to work for it) that I've seen developing in a team for quite a while.
    And me personally thinks that's a crying shame. Because it was so much fun to watch. Whereas the world's were only impressive...
    As I said: highly unprofessional point of view. But heartfelt nonetheless.
    Luckily, I'm not an expert of any kind (not even an armchair one, really), so maybe things will turn out completely differently. Squads will be completely different from what I expect them to be, tactics will be completely different from what I expect them to be, then there'll be your mighty home Olympics (dear people of Britannia), and afterwards everything will probably be completely different again... Plus there'll be a hell of a lot of 'trying' either way, I guess.
    So, the real problem is that I always hated the 'wait' part in 'wait and see'...

    Oh, and while I'm at wondering anyway: wasn't there some talk about physiological tests? On the track? Right after the Tour? Any results?

  • Comment number 45.

    I hope for everyone's sake it works but for me the team now has far too many chiefs and not enough indians. I can not remember a team successfully going for sprints and overall, you go into the race making too many compromises.


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