We’re still five weeks away from the start of the new season, but Team Sky have already started ruffling their rivals’ feathers. Britain’s new super-team have upset Russian-owned Team Katusha over false speculation that they had signed rising Brit star, Ben Swift.
“It’s very bad that a team like Sky goes around thinking that they can buy up riders who are under contract,” says Katusha manager Andrei Schmil. “Swift will stay in this team for 2010 despite what Team Sky are trying to do.”
The same aggressive poaching policy has also caused problems for Garmin-Slipstream who are still managing to hold onto Bradley Wiggins, despite increasing pressure from Sky. Both Swift and Wiggins are contracted to their respective teams until the end of 2010, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Sky, who are still desperate to sign as many riders as possible.
Despite having an abundance of cash, Sky still haven’t been able to secure an ideal roster. Only a quarter of the 24-rider line-up are Brits, and with the exception of Edvald Boasson Hagen, the remainder are hardly household names.
With the absence of Wiggins, this is a super squad that still lacks a serious GC contender or major British presence.
It looks as though this cash-versus-contracts row is set to continue, but at what future cost to Sky?
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly magazine