The Sky team was formed at the start of the 2010 season and the intention was clear from the very beginning: to have a British winner of the Tour de France within five years.
It's taken just three.
Bradley Wiggins had achieved all there is to do as a track rider and he escaped what he called his “comfort zone” and set himself a new challenge after successfully defending his Olympic title in the individual pursuit in 2008. With three gold medals from the Olympics in his trophy cabinet - one each from the solo 4,000m effort (which is no longer on the program for the Games), and one from the team equivalent (from 2008) - he shed some weight and focused on a good performance in stage races. In 2009, the true transformation began when he finished fourth overall in the Tour de France.
This prompted a mid-contract transfer to the Sky team (from Garmin) and, after two lost years - 2010 was a disastrous Tour really in every way, “in the way I handled myself and everything”, followed by a crash that put him out of the race last year - he has achieved the lofty ambitions of Sky.
Wiggins was never placed worse than second in the general classification; he was second in the prologue and the winner of the two long time trials. It was in Besançon and Chartres that he gained most of the time against his team-mate, Christopher Froome, the Kenyan-born Brit who is the runner-up of the 99th Tour.
Wiggins and Froome were first and second in stages nine and 19 (separated by 35 and 1'16 respectively) and it was an untimely puncture for the super-domestique in the finale of stage one that cost Froome another 1'25.
But the pair from Sky finished first and second overall and created history for British cycling.
Topping things off on the final day, Wiggins led the peloton under the 'flamme rouge' and, as promised did a lead-out supreme for the master of the modern sprinters, Mark Cavendish. Other teams tried to interrupt the desires of Sky to finish the Tour in the best possible way - with a fourth successive victory for the Manxman on the Champs-Elysées but the efforts of Saxo Bank, Orica-GreenEdge and Liquigas could do nothing to hold off the charge of the world champion who started his sprint from the moment he came off the Place de la Concorde. It was a long sprint but he held off a fast, late challenge from Sagan.
The progress report The final stage of the 99th Tour de France began at 2.15pm with 153 riders still in the race. As expected the early stanza of the ride to Paris was done at a tranquil pace with the average speed for the first hour just 31.7km/h. The two hills in the stage were the Cote de Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse (cat-4 at 36.5km) and the cote de Chateaufort (cat-4 at 40.5km). Each of the leaders of the respective prize classifications – Wiggins (SKY), van Garderen (BMC), Sagan (LIQ) and Voeckler (EUC) – rode bikes that were coloured the same as their jerseys: yellow, white, green and polka-dotted, respectively. Voeckler took the one point for the first climb; Plaza (MOV) was first over the second hill. Hincapie leads peloton to the circuit: 11 get in The Escape The peloton arrived in Paris after two hours and 10 minutes. Hincapie (BMC) led Horner (RNT) for the first of eight laps of the Champs-Elysées. Voigt (RNT) and Hondo (LAM) were the first to gain an advantage on the peloton; on the second pass of the finish line they were 8” ahead of the peloton that was led by Sky. With 32km to go, 11 men broke free of the peloton; the riders involved were Marino (SAU), Kuchynski (KAT), Bak (LTB), Burghardt (BMC), Costa (MOV), Minard (ALM), Voigt (RNT), Edet (COF), Tankink (RAB), Kroon (STB) and Iglinskiy (AST). With 25km to go, they had a lead of 27”. The maximum gain was 30”. Liquigas and Sky were the teams that took most responsibility for the chase. With 13km to go Voigt attacked and dragged Minard and Costa with him; 10km from the finish, they had a lead of 18”. With 4km to go it was down to 8” and Saxo Bank put four men on the front before Sky took control again and with 3km to go, the escape was over. Cavendish: Champ of the Champs... again! It was the longest sprint that Cavendish has done on the final day: racing on his own from the final turn all the way to the line. Matt Goss was on the wheel of the world champion and, try as he did, the runner-up from the world championships could do nothing to beat the winner of the rainbow jersey last September. Cavendish and Goss opened up a big gap on the others but Sagan finished quickly and pushed the Manxman all the way to the line but the salute was a display of true emotion as he racked up his fourth successive victory on the Champs-Elysées. Bradley Wiggins finished in 53rd place as part of a group that was nine seconds behind Cavendish. The 32-year-old is the first British champion of the Tour de France.