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MILAN (VN) — Bradley Wiggins will line up against his former Sky team for the first time in the Tour de Yorkshire on Friday. The Englishman is set to make his debut in the blue and red team Wiggins colors as he transitions from the road to the track with an attempt at breaking the hour record on the horizon.
Wiggins, who celebrates his 35th birthday Tuesday, has never raced against Sky before. He left Garmin after he finished fourth in the 2009 Tour de France and joined Sky for its debut year in 2010. He stayed with the British squad for five and a half years, winning the 2012 Tour de France and the time trial at the 2014 UCI worlds, and left after Paris-Roubaix two weeks ago.
“I would not have had any of the success that I’ve had if I hadn’t been in this team,” Wiggins said during a talk with members of the media during the classics.
“In years to come, I’ll look back on these times with affection. It’s just a shame it has to come to an end.”
Wiggins is taking aim at the hour record June 7 and working toward riding in the team pursuit with Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics. To prepare, he will race selected road events with team Wiggins.
He launched the British Continental team in January, which already started rolling in France’s Tour de Normandie last week. Its next stop is the first ever Tour de Yorkshire (May 1-3) where Wiggins will form part of his team’s eight-man roster.
Tour de France organizer ASO launched the three-day English race in January. It came on the heels of a successful 2014 Tour de France start in Yorkshire, where fans lined every inch of the road during the first two stages.
Sky and four other WorldTeams — BMC Racing, LottoNL-Jumbo, Giant-Alpecin, and IAM Cycling — will take part, along with 14 teams from the Pro Continental and Continental levels. Sky’s team includes many of the same riders who helped Wiggins to his wins.
Sky has yet to confirm its lineup, but Ben Swift, Ian Boswell, Nathan Earle, Andy Fenn, Sebastián Henao, Salvatore Puccio, and Chris Sutton are due to race.
“Bradley is one of the most professional guys out there, and to have witnessed his commitment to a goal he sets is inspiring,” the 27-year-old Swift told VeloNews.
“It will be quite strange lining up against him after being a teammate with him for most of my career.”
Added American Ian Boswell, “I still have a lot of respect for Bradley.
“It changes the dynamic racing against him rather than with him. It was only a couple of months ago when we were still together.
“It’s a time of change for team Sky. This was his team, built to win the Tour, and with Bradley. Now there’s a change in the hierarchy.
“Who’s going to be the next face of Sky? Chris Froome is already here, and riders like Luke Rowe, Pete Kennaugh, and Geraint Thomas are coming up quickly.”
Austrian Bernie Eisel, who was due to race in Yorkshire, helped Wiggins to an 18th-place finish in Paris-Roubaix April 13 and to the 2012 Tour win.
“I wish his new teammates all the best,” Eisel said, “to keep him at the front and out of trouble.”
The race includes three stages of around 170 kilometers each. The final one ends in Leeds, where the 2014 Tour de France began. The stage will be Wiggins’ last road race before attempting to break the hour record June 7 in London.
Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC) holds the record at 52.491 kilometers. That could change as Brit Alex Dowsett (Movistar) will attempt to break the mark May 2 in Manchester, England.
Wiggins, besides riding on the road, is training on the track in Manchester to prepare for the hour record.