Cycling: Team Sky want British Tour de France winner

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The Independent Online

Team Sky was launched at a glitzy ceremony in central London today with the objective of supplying a British winner of the Tour de France within five years.

The home-grown professional cycling squad is led by team principal Dave Brailsford and has recruited triple Olympic gold medal winner Bradley Wiggins as its star rider.

Wiggins, who equalled the best finish by a Briton in the Tour de France with fourth place last year, left Garmin to sign a four-year deal with Sky.

Rising star Ben Swift, 22, was today confirmed as an addition to the team after enjoying an outstanding professional debut season in 2009.

Sky's start-up cost is reported to be £35million 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."

All 26 riders cycled onto the stage at today's presentation at Millbank Tower.

Previous attempts to establish a successful British team have traditionally ended in bankruptcy with the nation's last outfit to compete in the Tour de France, Barloworld, folding in 2008.

Wiggins himself rode for the Linda McCartney Racing Team, which lasted just three years and was disbanded in 2001.

But Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director, hopes to establish Team Sky as the biggest player on the circuit with the backing of BSkyB's financial muscle.