From stellar confirmation during the 2011 Tour of Spain of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome as three-week-long Grand Tour (a Grand Tour is three-week lonm) exceptional riders, all were smiles within Team Sky squad, that without going any further, was left with the last two editions of the Tour de France and with all that that implies.
The historic 2012 season of Wiggins, followed by another equally extraordinary of Froome in 2013 , were the high points of a team that got tired of winning overwhelmingly wherever they went , with riders like Uran fighting for the Giro or Porte winning Paris-Nice, shining in the Dauphiné and in the Pais Vasco (Basque Country). All this made us forget the road Wiggo debacle .
Of course, the other members of the structure also did their part during this period and even got results, but things changed and good fortune seems far for Brailsford’s riders in 2014.
The pending investigations into Tiernan-Locke and Henao , in addition to Froome’s back injury, who, after sweeping the Tour of Oman was far from repeating the quiet and imposing beginning of days gone by, to the point that an operation was rumored which ultimately was not completed, but it hindered him from the Tirreno–Adriatico and dwindled him at the Volta a Catalunya .
As if this was not enough, Porte is not yet anything like the powerful version that deserved the leadership for the Giro and brought want a future of independence, as after January’s exhibition at Willunga Hill, he did not leave a good impression despite being 2nd in Andalusia and subsequently abandoned in Tirreno and Catalunya suffering from intestinal problems, a fact that defined his absence in the Corsa Rosa.
Already without Uran among its members, it was the second line of the English team who took over and took care of business to cover some of the negative air breathed by these days among black men.
That was how the promising Peter Kennaugh was uncovered in Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali and won a stage and the race, well supported by Dario Cataldo (winner of the time trial ) and Ben Swift ( he won the opening day ) , who also took the podium in Milano San Remo, the Monument available to a few.
Geraint Thomas was the flagship for SKY on the World Tour, only an brilliant Betancur and a hard fall deprived him of an almost certain podium in Paris-Nice , but then he got it at E3 Harelbeke , disputing the race with the creditworthiness of a Flandrien .
In addition , the Welsh finished 8th in De Ronde , leaving glimpses of his enormous potential and adding to his resume a result of high prestige also adding to the 8th place in Down Under and the 11th in the Ruta Ciclista del Sol
The other one who was called to save the day in Sky was Ian Stannard , winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and always candidate for the Classics or break away thanks to his stamina, but his choices were truncated when broke several bones in a fall at Gent Wevelgem .
Meanwhile, the multifaceted and talented Edvald Boasson Hagen had good times at Challenge Mallorca and a podium at Omloop after working overtime for his partner, but that was it , leaving much to be desired in their beloved and elusive cobblestones.
Different is the reality of Mikel Nieve , who may be riding towards the absolute captaincy in the Giro , as to the aforementioned loss, excellent results adds to his season , where he debuted with a 20th place in Oman ( 11th in Green Mountain) followed by a 10th in Tirreno and an outstanding performance during the demanding end of the opening day of the Pais Vasco where he ended 7th within the illustrious chase pack .
In this context and with ups and downs in some cases, it is clear that not only from Wiggins, Froome and Porte SKY depends on, it faces the challenges with their second swords and they are not doing bad , especially if we consider that the rest of the squad still are yet to show: Kiryienka , David López and Siutsou will be extremely important.
Nor should we dismiss Wiggo , since he is a track multichampion who became winner of the world’s largest race , so if he finds his path (Roubaix is among his goals ) might surprise the world once again , adding another jewel to the British Crown , which now maintains the luster of the hand of his humble followers .
Pablo Martín Palermo