As the New Year dawns, Britain is gripped by Arctic conditions making cycling something that I can only read about at the moment. Nevertheess, my blog will now continue again and grow in readiness for this years cycling calender. There will be the usual attempt at humour, related articles and things to read and watch. This year promises a lot. It is great to have a British cyling Team and some British riders to get excited about. What a god way to start off the blog.
Bradley Wiggins is confident that Britain's new Team Sky road racing team is strong enough to give him a chance of winning this year's Tour de France. Speaking at Sky's launch on Monday, Wiggins - who finished fourth in the Tour in 2009 - said: "If I'm ever going to win it, it will be with this team. "It is a long way off but we can match any other team that will be there. "To be honest it is the only race that matters. How we get on will be how the team is judged so it remains the goal." Wiggins, 29, a triple Olympic gold medallist on the track, left Garmin to join Team Sky before Christmas and is already impressed by the new set-up, which has an objective of supplying the first British winner of the Tour by 2015. Sky are not a one man team - Brailsford "From what I've seen, we are heading in the right direction," Wiggins explained. "(Team principal) Dave Brailsford will always listen to what you say and he's said right from the start that this is our team and he is not going to dictate to us what to do. "I've noticed a big difference already in the way the little things are done and their professionalism, in a relaxed way, too. A lot of it is just common sense in looking after the riders but a lot of other teams lack it. "And whatever things we think need improving along the way, Dave is open to making this the best team in the world and he will change whatever he feels he needs to. "But, at this stage, everything feels fine. We won't know any weaknesses until we get into the racing season."
Some Sky riders are already taking part in events in Australia and the squad will take part in the Tour Down Under, which starts on 19 January. And, ahead of the start of the new season, rising GB cycling star Ben Swift has been confirmed as Team Sky's latest member. Swift, from Rotherham, rode for Russian team Katusha last year but got out of the remaining year of his contract to join the British team. The 22-year-old was unveiled at the team's launch ceremony and said: "It feels like coming home because I know so many of the support staff and the riders. I will be in the perfect environment to grow as a rider." Brailsford said: "Ben is a real talent and his future looks bright because he ticks all the boxes that it takes to make it in this sport. "He's extremely serious, skilled on bike, he can climb and sprint and I really believe he can go far with us. "We've worked quite some time with him on the track and I think the next years could be a massive breakthrough for him on the road as well."
Swift was part of the GB team at the world road championships Swift, who won a stage of last year's Tour of Britain, added: "Next year I'd like to ride another Grand Tour, but a big focus for me is the Track World Championships (in Copenhagen in March). "I want to ride the team pursuit at the London Olympics. Then I'll concentrate fully on the road - that's the career I've mapped out." Swift takes the total number of Britons in the Team Sky squad to eight. Sky's start-up cost is reported to be £35m, with 26 riders of 12 different nationalities comprising the roster. Brailsford said: "We started talking a long time ago about setting up a top-level British team but needed to reach a critical mass of riders to achieve it. Now here we are. "We're ambitious but the key thing for us is to make sure everything is centred on the rider. "We want to treat the riders with dignity and respect so that they can be the best then can be. "People need to be motivated to get the best out of them and we want them to achieve excellence. "Team spirit is critical to us so the personality of the riders played a big part in our recruitment."