The quartet of top-level British riders would form the backbone of the team, backed by satellite broadcaster Sky, which will be launched ready for next season.
“All these guys are going to move on to the Sky pro road team, maybe I shouldn’t have said that,” Sutton is quoted as saying in the BBC interview.
Both Millar and Wiggins are currently riding for American team Garmin-Slipstream – which Millar part-owns – and both riders have been selected for this year’s Tour de France. Thomas and Cummings are currently riding for Barloworld.
In revealing his intentions to sign the four riders, Sutton appears to have broken the traditional September 1 transfer window rule. But all may not be as it seems. Cycling Weekly contacted Sky team boss David Brailsford to clarify the situation, and he said it had all been a misunderstanding.
“The interviewer asked him [Sutton] if they were going to the nationals [championships] and Shane said yes, they are definitely coming. Somehow the guy understood this to mean they were coming to the team,” Brailsford told CW.
CW also approached Garmin-Slipstream team boss Jonathan Vaughters and asked him his thoughts on the interview. Vaughters confirmed that Wiggins is contracted with Garmin for next year, and therefore isn’t available, and whilst Millar’s contract is up next year he didn’t think Millar would be leaving as he’s part-owner of the team.
All four named riders are indeed appearing at this weekend’s British Cycling road race national championships in Abergavenny on Sunday, June 28.
‘WE CAN ACCOMMODATE CAVENDISH’
Sutton also said in the interview that the Sky squad would welcome the arrival of Columbia-Highroad sprint ace Mark Cavendish, when he’s available.
“When Mark wants to come home… we can accommodate and we’ll make sure there’s a team good enough for Mark,” Sutton said to the BBC.
“This guy’s the best in the world and we wouldn’t want to let him down.”
Cavendish won four stage of the 2008 Tour de France, and has already won 13 professional races this year including Milan-San Remo. The Manxman is not only one of the best riders in the world, but also one of the most sought-after with a wage to match. Sky would have to table a substantial deal to break Cavendish away from Columbia – and have a team in place to support him.
In his book, Boy Racer, Cavendish clearly states that he will not be part of the team in 2010.