Michael Rogers of Sky was the latest to answer the Tour de France quiz question: How does the team juggle the stage win goals of superstar Mark Cavendish with the GC aspirations of Bradley Wiggins?
It’s a volatile situation and the conflicting goals of the two riders threaten to split the team and ruin the chances of both. When Sky shoots for both the green and yellow jersey, they may end of up with neither and 500 cycling journalists shouting, “told you so.”
Speaking with Sophie Smith at SBS, Rogers stated the painfully obvious: “It’s not an easy task. It’s a huge task. Teams have tried and teams have failed and teams have succeeded.” Rogers is correct but his proportions were wrong — in recent tour history many teams have failed and only one has succeeded.
That team was the German Telecom squad back in 1997 when Erik Zabel was in green and Jan Ullrich managed his only yellow jersey. Count back the years and that is fourteen Tours ago. Rolf Aldag was along for that ride and later he’d become a DS with HTC-Columbia and help bring Cavendish to Tour de France dominance.
His Telekom and HTC years put him in a unique position to comment on the juggling act at Sky. As we noted in an earlier post, Aldag pulls no punches. “You can try but it’s gambling and it’s tricky for both the riders and the managers. One thing is obvious, if they believe that Wiggins can go for yellow they can’t compromise and give Cavendish four guys for the sprints. If they stretch it and think both riders have chance of achieving their goals, then honestly they don’t really believe in Wiggins,” Aldag told Cyclingnews.
So when Rogers says it’s a huge task, that might be an understatement. The Aussie went on to detail the second major hurdle that wasn’t as much of a factor when Telekom pulled off the double. “I think as the sport becomes more and more specialized, it’s getting harder and harder to go into the race with dual goals or triple goals. In the last couple of years teams have gone to the Tour just about one thing whether that’s overall or (something else).
Twisted Spoke holds up Rolf Aldag as witness number one in this Cav-Wiggins Tour sharing arrangement. For his part, Rogers finished the interview with the optimistic and wistful “every team just has to find their own way, their own path.”
Perhaps that means that Sky will bring not one but two teams to the Tour. One for Cav and a separate one for Wiggins. We’ll certainly find out in July if co-existence is not only possible but productive. Perhaps there should be a new jersey for the crazy team that tries for both yellow and green and fails: the coveted lime green jersey.