Even though Bradley Wiggins had some of his best results aboard Team Sky, he’d rather his 2018 team not resemble them.
At a press conference in London Wednesday, the Olympic champion and world hour record holder presented Team Wiggins’s 2018 roster, its goals, and his ethos for the team.
“My whole philosophy is that it’s not about pressuring them or shouting at riders or turning up at races and being serious. I think it’s about being relaxed and having fun,” Wiggins said.
Perhaps the biggest signing for the team is Tom Pidcock, 19, the 2017 cyclocross junior world champion. Wiggins offered a bit of long-term career advice to Pidcock in the press conference.
“Don’t go to [Team] Sky in the future. They’ll ruin you. Go somewhere else,” he said.
Even though the crowd laughed at Wiggins’s quip, he seemed serious about his critique of his former team. After the press conference, Wiggins told AFP that Sky has cast a negative light on pro cycling.
“They are not barbed jokes or digs, that’s the reality of the sport at the moment,” Wiggins said. “There’s a lot of talk about [Sky] at the moment and there’s a lot of negative talk as well, which is the reality.”
Sky’s presence in cycling has been unmatched in the sport but has been clouded lately by Chris Froome’s Salbutamol test last year. This has re-ignited the conversation around doping in the Tour de France because Froome had twice the allowed limit of the asthma drug in his system.
Wiggins said he believes much of cycling’s culture has changed over the past 20 years and there aren’t many teams fostering development. He wants to create an environment for his team like that of Hagens Berman Axeon, where the pressure on riders is low and the goal isn’t just to make it to the Tour de France.
The Axeon team, based in the United States and run by Axel Merckx, develops young riders and earns solid results. In the past nine years, more than 20 of Axeon’s riders have progressed to WorldTour teams. Merckx believes the ambition of the young riders carries the team, allowing him to take a step back.
“The thing to remember is that, it’s not us who makes these riders,” Wiggins said. “They come to us already, and they’re going to make it. It’s just a case of nurturing talent and developing it and maybe giving them the right support. A happy rider will always get results.”
Team Wiggins also unveiled its new kits Wednesday. Wiggins’s partnership with Rapha ended last year, so the team is now decked out in Le Col gear.
Wiggins has a lot of ambition for his 2018 roster and hopes to keep the culture original and organic. Although the racers may see the Tour one day, he won’t be reminding them that it’s the purpose of the team.
“Most of these teams come along, all fancy, get a nice bus and say, ‘Our goal is to be in the Tour de France in five years.’ That’s not our goal.”
Team Wiggins’ season began with a ninth-place finish for Etienne Georgi at the Perf’s Pedal Race in Southwick, England on February 11. Campbell Stewart and Mark Downey will compete in the 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Championships on February 27 in The Netherlands.