Team Sky: Who's riding for the new superteam?
It's transfer season in the world of professional cycling. Rumours are rife about who is going where for 2010 (and beyond), but there's one team that is the focus of more speculation than any other - Team Sky.
The British-based team, backed by the satellite broadcaster, was unveiled earlier in the year and since then many names have been linked to the squad. Some names are likely, others tentative - one thing is certain, the squad itself is remaining tight-lipped about its selection.
The team has lofty aspirations - a ProTour licence application has been lodged with the Union Cycliste Internationale and there has been talk of aiming for the 2010 Tour de France. Serious aims, for which you need a serious team.
Whilst other ProTour squads are naming their 2010 rosters, no official announcement has been made by Sky regarding its team. Here we take a stab at naming the likely line-up, based on what we've heard through the grapevine, via rumours and a bit of speculation.
We know that the squad will include a backbone of British riders, a number of which will come from the defunct Barloworld squad - Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Steve Cummings. Then there are the younger riders who have been through British Cycling's development academy system, such as Ian Stannard, Jonny Bellis, Ben Swift and Peter Kennaugh.
We can also speculate that the squad will need top-class international riders to contest ProTour races - such as Edvald Boasson Hagen, Juan-Antonio Flecha and Kurt-Asle Arvesen. And an Australian newspaper appeared to confirm the Aussie contingent of the team on Wednesday.
One very big question mark hangs over the name of Bradley Wiggins. His current Garmin-Slipstream team are adamant that he's not moving, yet Sky does need a Grand Tour contender and his name keeps cropping up. After Wiggins' fourth place at the 2009 Tour, he would seem to be perfect for the team. We've added his name to the list of possibles.
Although not originally believed to be on the shortlist, Russell Downing put himself in contention after his brilliant win in the Tour of Ireland. Having the top British based rider on the team would give a huge boost to the domestic scene.
Almost definites (19)...
Chris Froome (GBr) - confirmed
Geraint Thomas (GBr) - confirmed
Steve Cummings (GBr) - confirmed
Ben Swift (GBr)
Jonny Bellis (GBr)
Peter Kennaugh (GBr) - confirmed
Juan-Antonio Flecha (Spa) - confirmed
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) - confirmed
Morris Possoni (Ita) - confirmed
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) - confirmed
Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) - confirmed
Serge Pauwels (Bel)
Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) - confirmed
Matthew Hayman (Aus)
Simon Gerrans (Aus) - confirmed
Chris Sutton (Aus)
Russell Downing (GBr) - confirmed
John-Lee Augustyn (RSA) - confirmed
Sylvain Calzati (Fra)