As with so many cycling stories, Team Sky’s story develops as a Cinderella meets the big bad wolf fairy tale. Formed in 2010, it set about with its aim to put the first British rider on the top step of the Tour de France podium within 5 years. It was clinched by Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and successfully repeated in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 by Chris Froome. In 2017, he also won the Vuelta a Espana making Team Sky one of the most successful teams in cycling.
The British Cycling Program took a turn into international headlines with that Tour victory in 2012 and capitalized on a large budget and research that placed their pursuit track riders on the podiums at the London Olympics and 4 years later in Rio which made Bradley Wiggins Britain’s most decorated Olympian.
In the seasons since the now infamous revelations that performance-enhancing drugs were rampant among Tour riders and one particular American winner, teams have fallen under greater scrutiny. Team sky has been in the headlines due to a mysterious package delivered to the team back in 2011, and more recently with a Parliamentary report that suggests that Team Sky knowingly used PED’s to win the Tour in 2012. Like so many accusations, it alleges that the drugs were used under the guise of treating medical conditions, which if not approved by WADA (World Anti-doping Agency) is illegal in most professional sports.
More recently, Chris Froome was found to have high levels of albuterol (an asthma medication) in his A and B test samples in 2017 at the Vuelta a Espana, although he alleges the doctor suggest he up his asthma medicine but was still within legal limits. No suspensions have been handed and Team Sky with Froome at the helm is headed out to prove just how good they are. Asthmas is a tricky beast – sufferers need drugs to breathe, but when is the line between breathing as much as a non-affected person and breathing better crossed?
There is only really one way to prove to cycling fans that the asthma medication was not acting as a PED --ride clean and win.
This year's Giro has been a fantastic grand tour to watch. with so much turn of events and the unbelievable performance of Chris Froome on Stage 19. It is definitely one of the best Giro d'Italia in recent history. However, with so much history tainting the sport, we can only hope that this is not one of those occasions.
As the season has it, concurrent with the Giro is the Tour of California which began May 13th. Sky’s contingent features Columbian, British and Russian riders. With prowess in the mountains, the Columbian Egan Bernal was kept at the front of the peloton by his teammates with Russian Lukasz Wisniowski taking 15th in the sprint. At the young age of 21, Bernal is already considered one of the hottest climbing phenoms in the sport. Stay tuned as the summer months are bound to be exciting for Team Sky.
Regardless of controversy, Team Sky has a depth of riders that could once again land them on top of the World Tour scene and ensure continued success for all of British cycling.