Team Sky target 2015 Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix wins

By Matt SlaterBBC Sport
Sir Dave Brailsford
Sir Dave Brailsford left his post as performance director at British Cycling in April to concentrate on his role with Team Sky

Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford is determined his team can bounce back from a disappointing 2014 with victories next year for his two stars, Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

The British team failed to win a stage in any of the three Grand Tours and struggled in the major one-day races.

But Brailsford is sure Tour de France winners Froome, 29, and Wiggins, 34, can lead the team to victory again.

"We'd like to win the Tour, we'd like to win a classic," said Brailsford.

"And we'd really like to get behind Bradley for a good crack at the Paris-Roubaix race," said the 50-year-old, who is convinced Froome is still improving and that Wiggins can finish his road cycling career with one more famous win.

"I think that would be a really good goal for us," Brailsford told BBC Sport.

Team Sky came into this season after back-to-back wins at cycling's biggest event, the Tour de France, as well as numerous victories in smaller stage races. Wiggins provided most of the highlights in 2012, with Froome taking over last year.

Chris Froome
Chris Froome finished second at the Vuelta a Espana behind Alberto Contador

The changing of the guard at Team Sky was given added significance by the two riders' frosty relationship.

Froome made a solid start to his attempt to claim a second straight Tour after victory in 2013, winning two of his first three warm-up races, while Wiggins targeted different goals.

But Team Sky's season started to unravel in the spring when Froome picked up a series of illnesses and injuries, culminating in his withdrawal from the 2014 Tour when three crashes in two days left him with broken bones in his left wrist and right hand.

The team struggled in his absence, a situation not helped by the fact the 2012 champion was not selected for the race.

Brailsford, however, maintains he made the right decision in placing all his faith in Froome, saying he was not trying "to win a popularity contest".

From the nadir of the Tour, Team Sky's season improved with Froome's gutsy display at the final Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a Espana, where the Kenyan-born Brit rode himself back into form and fitness, narrowly losing out to home favourite Alberto Contador.

As spirited as the Team Sky rider's display was, some observers noted that Contador was also short of fitness, having broken a bone in his leg at the Tour, and that Froome seemed to have lost his ability to accelerate away in the high mountains. But Brailsford denies we have seen the best of his rider.

"No, he's 29 years old, he's still hungry and committed, and there's still room for improvement," the former Great Britain Olympic cycling chief said.

"I'm sure we'll see ongoing improvement.

"But there's no doubt that Contador, 2014 Tour winner Vicenzo Nibali, 2014 Giro d'Italia champion Nairo Quintana and Chris are at the top of their games.

"It's great for the sport. Rather than having just one or two guys up there, you've got four who can battle it out, as we saw in Spain.

"Contador and Chris were hammering it out on the very last mountain stage and it was great to watch.

Bradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins won the time trial at the UCI World Road Championships with Great Britain

"They're very closely matched and that's when it comes down to racing. It's not just about physiology."

There was further reason for optimism after the Vuelta when Wiggins claimed one of the best results for a Team Sky rider this year - albeit in GB colours - by winning the time trial at the UCI World Road Championships in Spain.

The 34-year-old's triumph capped a personal season which had actually been very good, as it included a top-10 finish at the arduous Paris-Roubaix one-day race, victory at the week-long Tour of California, another British time trial title, a Commonwealth Games medal and third place at the Tour of Britain.

For sheer versatility, Wiggins is one of the all-time greats, which is one of the reasons why his association with Team Sky is sure to continue until what he hopes is a golden finale at the Rio Olympics in 2016, when another medal would take him past Sir Chris Hoy's British record of seven.

Wiggins' desire to return to the track has led to wide speculation about who he would ride for in the meantime.

Wiggins is said to be close to signing a deal with Team Sky to ride for them until April's Paris-Roubaix, his last big goal on the road, before moving to a new Sky-backed team of young British talent that he will front in cycling's third tier, the UCI Continental level.

This means British fans should get to see Wiggins riding in the world champion's iconic rainbow jersey in some fairly low-key domestic races next season, as he prepares for his assault on cycling's Hour Record in June.

Hour record landmarks*
1876 (first record)Frank Dodds26.508km
1893Henri Desgrange35.325km
1898Willie Hamilton40.781km
1935Giuseppe Olmo45.090km
1972Eddy Merckx49.431km
2000Chris Boardman49.441km
2005Ondrej Sosenka49.700km
2014Jens Voigt51.115km
*Does not include those cancelled from record books by UCI