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by Shane Stokes
January 5, 2015
Bradley Wiggins’ oft-stated desire to scale back his road career and to refocus on track racing for the 2016 Olympic Games has been reflected in the details of his new contract arrangement, with Team Sky announcing Monday that the Briton will remain with the team until April.
After that, he will depart and is expected to be part of the new Team Wiggins setup, a Continental team with a track orientation but which will also ride road events.
The category of the team’s licence will mean that Wiggins will be unable to ride many of the top events in cycling after that point, including the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.
He won the Tour in 2012 but hasn’t returned to the race since then; now, with confirmation of his contract plans, it seems he will never compete in the race again.
Instead, Wiggins’ road focus will be centred around the Paris-Roubaix Classic. He finished ninth last season and has said that he is determined to try to win the race this year.
“Everyone knows what this team means to me so I’m really pleased to extend my contract until the end of April 2015,” he said Monday. “I’ve been with Team Sky from the start. I’ve had some amazing experiences during that time and I hope there are a few more to come.
“Sky’s investment in cycling, and this team in particular, has helped change the cycling landscape in the UK and I’m proud to have played a part in that story.
“Paris-Roubaix is a special race for me and I’m determined to give it another go in Team Sky colours. It’s one of the toughest races in the calendar and my aim is to improve on my ninth-place finish last year. After that I can focus fully on preparing for the Rio Olympics in 2016.”
Wiggins is also expected to attack the world hour record, but the contract announcement didn’t mention that.
The 34 year old has been with Team Sky since it hit the road in 2010 and has clocked up 23 victories since then, including the Tour.
Last season he took the Tour of California and later won the world time trial championship. His departure from Team Sky will not affect his ability to defend the latter title as it is contested with national teams.
Team Principal Dave Brailsford said that he and the team were delighted that Wiggins had inked a new deal. “He’s been with Team Sky since the beginning and during that time he’s been an incredible ambassador for cycling and an inspiration to millions of people around the world.
“Rightly he still has big ambitions for the future and everyone at Team Sky will work their hardest to make his final chapter with us a successful one over the next few months.”
Wiggins’ departure will bring an end the rumoured friction with Chris Froome, a relationship which grew tense when Froome dropped Wiggins during the 2012 Tour in what some perceived to be a bid to chase the yellow jersey himself.
Froome reportedly insisted on having full team support for the 2013 race, which he won; Wiggins crashed in the Giro d’Italia and didn’t ride the event.
He said last year that he wanted to return to the Tour, but the team ultimately did not select him.
Now, rather than trying to ride the race again, he is orienting his ambitions in a different direction. Should he be able to win Paris-Roubaix he would join a select group of riders who have taken both it and the Tour.
The last rider to win both events during his career was Bernard Hinault, who clocked up five Tours and also took the Classic in 1981.
Also see: Bradley Wiggins on Graham Norton Show