Team Sky has called a press conference today (Thursday) where it is expected that it will unveil Bradley Wiggins as its latest signing. The 29-year-old British rider raced for Garmin-Slipstream for just one year.
Wiggins rode to fourth in this year’s Tour de France and has been the subject of transfer rumour ever since, with British Team Sky to launch in 2010 and still without a team leader for the Grand Tours.
Wiggins had previously hinted that he would leave Garmin-Slipstream. In September, he told the BBC: “It’s like trying to win the Champions League – you need to be at Manchester United, but I’m playing at Wigan at the moment so I have to make that step up.”
In August, Team Sky Directeur Sportif Scott Sunderland told Cyclingnews: “If Bradley is available then of course we’re interested; he’s British, so yes it’s a possibility. If Wiggins himself wants to come then of course it could happen.”
In the last few months Garmin-Slipstream fought a drawn-out battle for Wiggins to remain with the team for 2010, having signed a two-year contract with the United States of America-based team at the end of 2008.
Yet in the last a few weeks speculation ramped up as the tug of war escalated. “He has let it be known to me that he’d like to be with Sky,” Garmin-Slipstream manager Jonathan Vaughters told BBC Sport. “I haven’t spoken to him recently, but I think he has a strong desire to be part of the first UK pro team.”
Earlier in June Shane Sutton of Sky told the BBC that Wiggins, David Millar, Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas were all being drafted: “All these guys are going to move on to the Sky pro road team, maybe I shouldn’t have said that!”
Although both Cummings and Thomas have been confirmed for Sky already, Millar looks set to stay at Garmin-Transitions.
Dave Brailsford told the Daily Telegraph earlier in the year: “Everybody in British cycling is absolutely thrilled about their success in the Tour de France and Brad and Cav are now two of the biggest names in the sport worldwide, let alone Britain,” Brailsford said. “In our ideal scenario we would want at least one of them involved in our debut season, but both are contracted with their current teams so it is very unlikely at the moment. But you never say never in sport.”
With the signing of Wiggins set to be completed in the early hours of Thursday morning Wiggins will lead Team Sky in next year’s Tour de France, should the team be invited.