WIGGINS ON HIS MOVE TO GARMIN-CHIPOTLE
See Bradley Wiggins: The Big Interview in Thursday's Cycling Weekly
Bradley Wiggins has revealed that he will ride for Garmin-Chipotle next season after signing a two-year deal with the American squad.
The 28-year-old has won three world titles and two Olympic gold medals on the track this season, but will switch his focus back to the road next year.
He almost joined Slipstream – now Garmin – this time last year, but couldn’t commit because the team could not guarantee entry to the Giro d’Italia, a race that was critical to Wiggins’s preparation for the Olympic Games.
“I would have liked to go then, but they didn’t know what their programme was going to be and I needed to know I could do the Giro,” he said. “So I signed a one-year contract with T-Mobile instead, because they said I could ride the Giro and balance that with my Olympic aims.”
T-Mobile pulled the plug on its sponsorship at the end of last year, meaning the team started the season as High Road, taking the name of the management company that owns it.
Before the Tour de France, outdoor clothing specialists Columbia became the team’s new sponsor. Because of his Olympic commitments, Wiggins has yet to pull on the team’s new blue jersey in competition and will do so for the first time at the Tour of Britain on Sunday.
“Dave [Millar] said ‘You’re on a one year deal, so let’s talk again next year,” Wiggins added. “During the Giro he asked me what I was doing and I said I would talk to them.”
In the meantime, Wiggins spoke with the management at Columbia. “I asked what role they saw for me in the next couple of years. They said they had considered signing Marco Velo [a lead-out rider and occasional time triallist], but they weren’t going to because they had me. That made my mind up really.
“They are building a team around Cav [Mark Cavendish] and rightly so. Columbia is going to be the Cav show and who can blame them.
“But I don’t want to go to every race leading out Cav every day. It was good fun doing that for him at the Giro, but I don’t fancy that for the next few years. I still have ambitions myself.
“The problem is that the stages when I can go for it and try to get in breaks are also the ones when Cav can win, and my job would be to be by his side.
“I hope to do well in the Tour for myself next year. The peloton is getting slower and slower and I reckon I will have some chances.”
And with the Tour de France prologue taking place on the streets of Monaco next year, that will be a big goal for Wiggins.
MOVING TO GARMIN
Wiggins added: “JV [team manager Jonathan Vaughters] said ‘What do you want?’ and I told him and he said ‘Okay’. Financially it’s a deal I couldn’t turn down really.
“I have been really impressed with how they have done this year and I think they’re only going to get better.”
But he said his decision to leave was no reflection on Columbia. “I have been really grateful. They allowed me to do what I needed to do this year and I have really enjoyed my time with the team, but I only signed for one year in the first place."
Wiggins admitted that he had not spoken to his Madison partner Mark Cavendish after the disappointment of their eighth place finish in the Olympic Games.
“We haven’t spoken but it’ll be alright. We’re like brothers really. We’ve fallen out. He’s said a few things in the heat of the moment, and I can understand his disappointment.”
British Cycling’s dilemma over how to fill the second individual pursuit spot had repercussions as the endurance events went on and Wiggins found himself racing every round of the team pursuit, which left him with nothing much left to give in the Madison.
He said: “They [BC] had accepted the place that we had qualified and we had to fill that space from a sporting sense. It wouldn’t have been fair or right to leave it empty and deny another country a chance to put a rider in. Also, it would have meant one rider riding alone in qualifiying, so they had to fill it.
“The plan had been to give me a rest for the team pursuit qualifying by putting Steven [Burke] in. I think they thought he would do two rides at most, but he did really well to get to the bronze medal final and they weren’t sure how he’d back up for the team pursuit, so I had to do it.
“I had four hours’ sleep after the individual, because of the dope control and the press and everything that goes with winning, and that took its toll. I got up early next morning to do two team pursuit rides and I wasn’t at my best in the morning.
“I’m not complaining. I knew that was the Olympic programme. I knew the challenge I was taking on trying to do three endurance events in five days. I did pretty well to win two, but I know it’s disappointing for Cav and I understand that.
“But it’s the position we were in. There was a doubt whether I’d be absolutely fresh and I wasn’t, but Olympic finals are not easy.
“The thing with Cav is he wants to win every time. At the Worlds I took the lead but in Beijing I couldn’t do that. I needed him to step up and give me a hand.
“From the look of our race programmes it doesn’t look as if we’re racing with each other again this season, but we’ll be alright.
“He’s had a great year and should be proud of everything he’s done. I think if you’d offered him four Tour stage wins or an Olympic medal at the start of the year he’d have taken the Tour stage wins.
“But I think he feels so much responsibility when he gets on the bike now. It’s quite hard for a 23-year-old to deal with all that. He’s won all these massive races and everyone expects him to win every time but people forget he’s young and he’s only a second year pro. What he’s achieved is fantastic.”
NO TRACK WORLD CUP?
Wiggins said he would not be riding the track World Cup meeting at Manchester at the end of October. “I haven’t been asked and I don’t think I will be doing that,” he said. But his autobiography, written with Brendan Gallagher of The Daily Telegraph will be out later in the autumn.
|CAREER SO FAR|
He actually turned pro for Linda McCartney in 2001 as a 20-year-old but the team folded before he actually raced for them.
2002-03: Française des Jeux
2004-05: Crédit Agricole
2008: High Road/Columbia
|WIGGINS IN 2008|
Tour of California
Second in the prologue behind Fabian Cancellara
Did not start stage seven
Wiggins won three gold medals for Great Britain at the World Track Championships – the individual pursuit, the team pursuit and the Madison with his High Road team-mate Mark Cavendish
Hel van het Mergelland, Holland
Did not finish the one-day race
Tour of Romandie
Fifth in the prologue, 105th overall
4th in final time trial, 134th overall
Wiggins won gold in the individual and team pursuit at the Olympic Games in Beijing.
On course for 2010: Brailsford on his pro team plans
Wiggins set to join Garmin-Chipotle
Tour of Britain 2008 preview