Bradley Wiggins withdraws from Abu Dhabi Tour
Organisers of the Abu Dhabi Tour have expressed their “surprise and disappointment” that Bradley Wiggins will not compete in the race later this month despite helping to promote the event.
Representatives of Wiggins have confirmed the 36-year-old will not take part in the four-day race which starts on 20 October as he focuses on the upcoming Six Day competitions in London and Ghent.
There have been distractions away from competition for Wiggins, notably after the Russian hacking group Fancy Bears leaked details of his medical records last month.
But Wiggins’ absence from the line-up in Abu Dhabi appeared to be news to race organisers RCS Sport, who issued a statement today stating that preparations had been made for Wiggins’ participation “in good faith”.
“Before the first announcement (20 September) we received the approval from Team Wiggins to communicate the presence of Bradley Wiggins at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Tour,” a statement from RCS Sport said.
“Last week the official enrolment form was submitted by a Team Wiggins official to RCS Sport with the name of the rider Bradley Wiggins included in the provisional entry list.
“In addition, as is usual practice for a major race, flights and accommodation have been booked in the name of Bradley Wiggins and those accompanying him.
“The race organisers are surprised and disappointed to see different stories in the media regarding Bradley Wiggins and the Abu Dhabi Tour.
“It is important to clarify that the long-standing expectation has been that Sir Bradley will be riding the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour, and that all operations by the race owner, race organiser and its representatives and agents have been based on that expectation in good faith.”
Wiggins plans to race on the track in the London Six Day, from 25 October to 30 October, and the Ghent Six Day, from 15-20 November, with Mark Cavendish. The pair are madison world champions.
Wiggins, who last raced on the road at September’s Tour of Britain, has announced his intention to retire at the end of 2016, but it is possible he could continue racing next year.
He has been embroiled in recent controversy after data stolen by hackers from files held by the World Anti-Doping Agency showed Wiggins received three therapeutic use exemptions for an otherwise banned drug.
The TUEs were for anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone – a substance which has a history of abuse in cycling – on the eve of the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and 2013 Giro d’Italia. He became the first British winner of the Tour in 2012.
Wiggins and Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford, the British Cycling performance director until April 2014, have strenuously denied any wrongdoing, insisting each time the TUEs were medically necessary to deal with a pollen allergy that aggravates Wiggins’ long-standing asthma condition.
The TUEs also had the approval of the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, and there is no suggestion that Wiggins, who left Team Sky in April 2015, or the team, have broken any rules.
UK Anti-Doping is also investigating allegations of “wrongdoing” in cycling and two of its investigators visited the National Cycling Centre last week to meet with British Cycling staff.
The Daily Mail last week reported that UK Anti-Doping was investigating Team Sky and Wiggins over the contents of a package allegedly delivered by British Cycling women’s team manager Simon Cope to Team Sky at the conclusion of the Criterium du Dauphine stage race in France on 12 June, 2011.
Press Association Sport understands that Wiggins and his representatives have received no notification from UKAD and believe the five-time Olympic champion is not a subject of the investigation.
Wiggins on Saturday welcomed the UKAD investigation, while British Cycling and Team Sky say they are co-operating.