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19 May 2024, Edition - 3232, Sunday

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Bradley Wiggins warns young cyclists that Team Sky will ‘ruin you’



Wiggins tells young riders to ‘steer clear’ of his former employers

Cyclist vows to have his say on his anti-doping inquiry ‘very soon’

Bradley Wiggins has warned young cyclists to steer clear of Team Sky, claiming his former employers will “ruin” them.

The 2012 Tour de France winner was speaking at the announcement of a new roster of riders for Team Wiggins, the under-23 team he has set up. He introduced his new signing Tom Piddock and when asked if he had any advice for his young charge, the 37-year-old made a stinging assessment of his former team. “Don’t go to Sky, steer clear of them,” he said. “Go somewhere else because they’ll ruin you.”

Wiggins was speaking against the backdrop of mounting pressure on Team Sky to submit their appeal to a drug test Chris Froome failed at last year’s Vuelta a España. Froome had double the permitted amount of the asthma drug salbutamol in a urine sample and is now trying to prove there is a legitimate physiological explanation for the adverse finding.

While Wiggins declined to comment on Froome’s case he believes Team Sky’s dominance, winning five of the past six Tour de France races, and a building portfolio of controversy have led to a “negative” atmosphere in the sport.

When asked to elaborate on his comments, Wiggins said: “They are not barbed jokes or digs, that’s the reality of the sport at the moment. I saw the reports only last week from [the Ruta del Sol in] Andalusia, or wherever it was, and they are the best team in the world. How many races did they win last week? And there’s a lot of talk about them at the moment and there’s a lot of negative talk as well.”

The five-times Olympic champion Wiggins faced an UK anti-doping agency inquiry after allegations he broke the rules in 2011 while with Team Sky. The investigation was dropped and Ukad said it had faced barriers in trying to establish what was contained inside a package delivered to Wiggins at the Critérium de Dauphiné in 2011. Both Wiggins and Team Sky maintain it was a legal decongestant not a banned corticosteroid, as had been alleged.

After the investigation concluded in November, Wiggins threatened to sue Ukad for what he described as a “malicious witch-hunt” and he has promised that: “I’m going to have my say on that very soon.”

Wiggins retired from professional cycling in 2016 and has since embarked on a challenge to switch to rowing. He also wants to establish a women’s equivalent to Team Wiggins. He suggested cycling would benefit from a salary cap to lower barriers to entry, again making a barbed reference to Team Sky.

“Something has got to happen. Sky are running away with it. With the office blocks they bring with them [to races], it’s difficult to compete, isn’t it? Whether that helps performance or not, I don’t know. Something has to change to even it out a bit.”

Mark Cavendish has pulled out of the Abu Dhabi Tour after sustaining concussion and whiplash in a fall before the race’s first stage. Cavendish’s team, Dimension Data said the incident occurred when “the race director’s car slowed suddenly as it led the peloton”. The 32-year-old started but pulled out after five kilometres.

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