The Triple Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins has played down persistent speculation that he will move to new British outfit Team Sky in 2010.
The 29-year-old Londoner broke weeks of silence on the subject to empatically state that he will be staying put with his current squad, Garmin-Transitions.
"I still have to see my contract out with Garmin," media reports have quoted Wiggins as saying. "I didn't really have the choice. It was never going to happen, so I never built up my hopes. I'll just have to concentrate on what I've got and focus with Garmin and do the best I can next year."
Rumours linking Wiggins and Sky reached fever pitch after Wiggins finished fourth in the Tour de France in July. The Londoner's eye-catching performance was the best by a Briton in cycling's marquee event since Robert Millar 25 years before, and with Team Sky regularly stating their mission is to win the Tour within five years, stories linking Wiggins and the new British squad quickly took shape.
Wiggins appeared to hint that he wanted to move on – although perhaps not to Sky – when he told the BBC: "It's like trying to win the Champions League – you need to be at Manchester United but I'm playing at Wigan at the moment."
Garmin-Transitions' team manager Jonathan Vaughters conceded at one point that Wiggins had told him he wished to sign for Sky, but Vaughters has been consistently adamant the move was not going to happen, stating, "I would have to be clinically insane to sell that [Wiggins] contract. My goal is to be fighting for the 2010 Tour with Bradley Wiggins."
Sky's recruitment policy came in for further scrutiny last night when it emerged they had named a British rider, Ben Swift, for their debut race in Australia even though – like Wiggins – Swift is under contract with another team, the Russian squad Katusha.
Sky team principal, Dave Brailsford, said that "our understanding was that he [Swift] had become a free agent."