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Team Sky look to build on stage win
8th July 2011
Source: Press Association Sport
Team Sky will turn their full attentions to Bradley Wiggins after securing a much-awaited Tour de France stage win.
Welshman Geraint Thomas yesterday surged up the final climb with Edvald Boasson Hagen in tow and the 24-year-old from Lillehammer burst across the line for victory on the rain-soaked 226.5km sixth stage from Dinan to Lisieux. It was a vindication of Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford's ambition, but the goals are higher for the British team, who are seeking to propel Wiggins to the podium in Paris on 24th July.
Brailsford said: "To come here, get a stage win early on, takes the pressure off Bradley. It is all about momentum, energy and confidence. It's exciting times."
Wiggins, who remained sixth overall behind race leader Thor Hushovd, was pleased Boasson Hagen was rewarded for his selfless work for the team. Wiggins, who finished fourth in the 2009 Tour but 24th in 2010, said: "He's the first to sacrifice his chances for me. Now, when he's working in the days to come he'll know he's already got something."
On his personal goals, Wiggins added: "There's no comparison to last year. It's chalk and cheese. But there's a still along way to go and you've got to tackle every day at a time."
Brailsford, as British Cycling performance director, led Britain to eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics before dividing his time with the Team Sky project established with the bold aim of producing a British Tour champion within five years.
Since the idea of Team Sky was first established, Brailsford has spoken of the mutual benefits for British Cycling, using Thomas as an example. The 25-year-old from Cardiff, who retained the best young rider's white jersey, has been one of the main protagonists of the opening six days of the Tour.
Brailsford added: "There is no better leadout man in the world than Geraint Thomas. He's got the ability across the board, he's a fantastic asset to this team."
In 2012, Thomas is likely to be seen leading out Mark Cavendish, who has been linked with a move to Team Sky at the end of his HTC-Highroad contract. Cavendish was unable to contest the finale yesterday, but today's 218km seventh stage finishes in Chateauroux, the town where he claimed his first Tour win in 2008 and few would be against the Manxman adding to his prolific record.