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Tiernan-Locke Sacked by Team Sky

Tiernan-LockeTeam Sky’s Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has received a two-year ban for an anti-doping violation. The International Cycling Union (UCI) imposed the ban on the 29-year-old, who joined Team Sky in 2012, after finding discrepancies in his biological passport; Tiernan-Locke is also stripped of his 2.012 Tour of Britain title and sacked from Sky.

 

Team Principal of Team Sky, Dave Brailsford, said: ‘Jonathan’s contract has been terminated today. Whilst there have been no doubts about his time with us, his doping violation – from readings taken before he joined this team – means there’s no place for him in Team Sky. We’ve a well-known stance on anti-doping and our action is the inevitable outcome of a violation. This is a team that trains, races and wins clean.’

 

The discrepancies in his biological passport were taken in September 2012, shortly before he signed his two-year contract with Team Sky and three months before his first race with the team.

 

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Team Sky Sign Philip Deignan

Philip DeignanTeam Sky has announced the signing of Irish rider Philip Deignan for the 2014 season. The 29-year-old from County Donegal joins the team after a successful second season with the UnitedHealthcare squad which has seen him win the Tour of the Gila, finish runner-up at the Tour de Beauce, and claim top-10 finishes at both the Tours of Utah, California and the USA Pro Challenge. Deignan turned professional with AG2R Prevoyance in 2005 and won the Tour de Doubs in his maiden season before making his Grand Tour debut at the 2007 Vuelta a Espana.  After joining Cervelo TestTeam in 2009, Deignan helped the squad to four stage victories at the Giro d’Italia before sealing his first Grand Tour stage win at the Vuelta, riding to ninth place overall in the process.

 

On the prospect of becoming the first Irish Team Sky rider, Philip Deignan said:  ‘I’m really excited to get the opportunity to race for the biggest team in the world and to be able to ride for some of the best riders in the world.  It’s going to be a big challenge but I’m really looking forward to it… It’s a fantastic team where nothing is left to chance with the coaching and the diet – which will really suit the type of rider that I am.  Team Sky will offer me the kind of environment I need to be in to help me perform to the best of my ability.’

 

Commenting on the signing Team Sky Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said:  “Everyone at Team Sky is very excited to have Philip join us from the start of next season. We’re well aware of what he is capable of on a bike.  He’s a climber of real quality and he will certainly strengthen our squad even further in stage race competition. He brings experience to the team and we believe he belongs at this level.  It’s great to finally have an Irish rider on our roster and I’m certain that under our coaches and performance staff there is a lot more to come from Philip.’

 

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Sky Rethink Tour de France Tactics

Sky Rethink Tour de France TacticsYesterday’s Tour de France rest day was about more than relaxing and working on tans for Team Sky. Despite Chris Froome retaining yellow after Sunday’s tough Stage 11 he was largely left on his own to defend the position after teammate Peter Kennaugh crashed, Richie Porte finished some 18minutes off time and Vasili Kiryienka ended up outside of the time limit. Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford admits that tactical changes are now needed, commenting, ‘There are some valuable lessons to be learned that we will take into the rest of the race… You learn more from adversity than success and we have learned a lot.’

 

Sunday’s 168.5km leg from Saint-Girons to Bagnčres-de-Bigorre included four category 1 climbs with Froome – who remains a race favourite – tweeting afterwards, ‘That was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had on a bike. Bring on the rest day tomorrow! #TDF’. The Tour de France continues today with a flat course through ‘the heartland of cycling’, Brittany, with a 197km run from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo.

 

For details of the six British riders competing in the Tour de France click here and for information on the origins of the Tour de France see the Cyclo feature here.

 

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British Cycling Appoints Andy Harrison

British Cycling Appoints Andy HarrisonBritish Cycling has announced the appointment of Andy Harrison as their new Programmes Director – his role will support that of Sir Dave Brailsford who in addition as serving as British Cycling’s Performance Director is Sky’s Team Principle. Harrison, who originally trained as a sports scientist at the University of Liverpool, is currently Performance Operations Manager for the English Institute of Sport (EIS) and will take up his new role in May.

 

Commenting on the appointment, British Cycling’s Chief Executive, Ian Drake, said: ‘Andy Harrison’s experience as a performance support and management expert for several major sporting bodies gives him a solid grounding for our new Programmes Director role. This is about creating a sustainable structure from which Britain can continue on its journey to become a cycling nation at all levels. It’s going to be a challenge to ensure we can sustain the remarkable success that we’ve achieved so far… I’m confident that the addition of Andy to the team alongside Sir David Brailsford as Performance Director and Shane Sutton as Head Coach will give us the best possible chance of continued success.’

 

Harrison added, ‘Having worked alongside the GB Cycling Team during their last two successful Olympic cycles, I am looking forward to becoming more involved with them as they work towards Rio… I think my experience and learnings from the elite sports industry will help drive the momentum which the team has picked up and I’m happy to have this opportunity to work with the GB Cycling Team.’

 

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Jason Kenny Focuses on Minsk

Jason Kenny heads for UCI Track Cycling World ChampionshipsThe squad of 16 riders selected by British Cycling to represent GB at the upcoming UCI Track Cycling World Championships (Minsk, February 20-24) includes an impressive roster of Olympic Gold Medalists – Dani King, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Phil Hindes, Ed Clancy and Steve Burke. For Kenny though the chance to ride in Minsk means refocusing and putting a disappointing post-London Games period behind him. ‘I did struggle for a couple of weeks trying to get a bit of momentum, those first couple of sessions of training,’ commented the 24-year-old from Bolton, ‘It was quite demoralising – going from the last time I rode at the Olympics on really good form and enjoying it to going back to square one a month later was really difficult but that’s what we do. I got over that and was really keen to work hard and put myself in the best possible place.’

 

It’s a position that British Cycling’s Performance Director, Sir Dave Brailsford, can appreciate but he sees Minsk too as something of a fresh start: ‘The first year of an Olympic cycle is always an interesting one as it gives the opportunity for our young riders to compete alongside the world’s best and experience the competitive environment which is crucial for their development. With that in mind, the focus for the team is to perform to the best of their ability as the route to Rio firmly begins.’

 

The full squad of 16 comprises:

 

Sprint – Matt Crampton, Kian Emadi, Becky James, Jason Kenny, Phil Hindes, Vicky Williamson

 

Men’s Endurance – Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Sam Harrison, Andy Tennant, Simon Yates

 

Women’s Endurance – Elinor Barker, Dani King, Laura Trott

 

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Team Sky Ride Out in Rapha

Team Sky Rapha kit launchesMark Cavendish with his fancy new Omega Pharma-Quick-Step togs isn’t the only one riding out with new kit this year as Team Sky launch their new partnership with official clothing provider Rapha Performance Roadwear. As part of a four-year agreement, Rapha have developed a full collection of top-end, high-performance racing and training kit and off-bike dress for both riders and staff. Team Principal Dave Brailsford said of the partnership, ‘Team Sky’s successes over the last three years have been achieved because of a strong and steady vision to find improvement at every level to help our riders win… I see Rapha joining us as another step in that direction. They share our ambition and vision for cycling.’

 

The sentiment was shared by Rapha Founder and Chief Executive, Simon Mottram who added: ‘We are delighted that, after only eight years as a business, we have been chosen by Team Sky, the world’s number one team, as their partner.’

 

Naturally the Rapha range will extend to ‘fan wear’ with supporters of Team Sky able to buy their own kit range which will officially launch on January 4 at the online store www.rapha.cc. Until you get the chance to get your hands on it, take a little inspiration from some of the key riders in Sky’s latest promotional video.

 

 

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Knight Riders

Bradley Wiggins Knighted in New Years Honours ListCould this be the least surprising news of the year? Bradley Wiggins – Tour de France Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, BBC Sports Personality of the Year – has been knighted in the New Year Honours list. Also knighted is Dave Brailsford who, as both Performance Director of British Cycling and head of Team Sky, was largely responsible for masterminding not only Wiggins’ TdF victory, but also the overall success of the London Olympics squad. Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey, winner of Team GB’s first (and three subsequent) gold medals at London 2012, has been made a dame, whilst the now-retired Victoria Pendleton has been awarded a CBE and Jason Kenny, who won gold medals in both the Team and Individual Sprints, is rewarded with an OBE.

 

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Wiggins and Brailsford Rewarded

Wiggins wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012A great year not only for Bradley Wiggins but for British cycling as a whole, as the Tour de France winner (and Olympic Time Trial champion) took the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, whilst British Cycling’s mastermind Dave Brailsford won the Coach of the Year award for his part in steering Team GB to eight Olympic Golds. Wiggins, the odds-on favourite from the start, took almost 500,000 of the 1.6m votes cast, 50% more than second place Jessica Ennis.  In typically jocular fashion, though promising not to swear, Wiggins thanked Brailsford, his coaches, Team Sky (for paying him) and the Olympians in general. He also invited everyone backstage to enjoy the free BBC bar…

 

Wiggins win marked the second year running that a cyclist has taken the award home after Mark Cavendish took the laurels in 2011; further proof of the rise of popularity of the sport in the UK was demonstrated by the fact that this year’s shortlist of 12 included two other cyclists: Sir Chris Hoy (the 2008 winner) and Sarah Storey, although they poled only 2.64% and 0.64% respectively.