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Wiggins joins new British cycling team

Bradley Wiggins in action for Britain at the men's time trial at the road world championships in September.
Bradley Wiggins in action for Britain at the men's time trial at the road world championships in September.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Olympic cycling champion Bradley Wiggins leaves American outfit Team Garmin
  • The 29-year-old joins his native Britain's first professional elite-level line-up, Team Sky
  • He signs a four-year contract after being released from final year of his deal at Garmin
  • Wiggins will work under British Cycling's performance director, Dave Brailsford
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(CNN) -- Olympic cycling champion Bradley Wiggins has left American outfit Team Garmin-Transitions to join his native Britain's first professional elite-level line-up.

The 29-year-old, who has won the last two Olympic individual pursuit titles and finished fourth at last year's Tour De France, has signed a four-year contract with Team Sky.

He had been with Garmin for only one season, and needed to win a release from his contract for 2010 to join up with Sky, backed by broadcasting giant BSkyB.

"Although we understand his strong desire to be a part of the UK's first-ever Pro Tour team, we would have loved to continue with him through 2010. His departure is not the outcome we hoped for," Garmin said in a statement on Thursday.

Team Sky officials were delighted to add Wiggins to a roster that already features Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Russell Downing, Peter Kennaugh, Chris Froome and Steve Cummings.

"Brad will be at home in Team Sky. It is the perfect fit and he will be a marquee rider for us," said team principal Dave Brailsford, who is also British Cycling's performance director.

"He is an exceptional athlete -- a great performer at a great age. And he will get better still.

"At Team Sky he can continue to develop, surrounded by some of the coaches and performance experts who have worked with him for years as part of the British Cycling set-up.

"With his experience he will help us to develop our great young talents too."

Team Sky's first major race will be the Tour Down Under in January.

Brad will be at home in Team Sky. It is the perfect fit and he will be a marquee rider for us
--Team principal Dave Brailsford

Wiggins is hoping to build on his 2009 season with another strong showing in cycling's premier event, the Tour de France, after joining his sixth professional team since starting out with the Linda McCartney outfit in 2001.

"It has been an amazing year for me and my ride at the Tour has given me the drive to aim even higher," he told reporters. "I know I can continue to develop and Team Sky is the perfect place to make that happen.

"Team Sky has huge ambitions, not just for the team but for cycling and inspiring the public to ride. It's an amazing project and the next four years will be very exciting.

"Obviously it was always going to be a difficult situation to leave Garmin. I was surrounded by friends, had close relationships with the riders and some of the staff.

"But there was was only ever going to be one team I would leave that team for, and that was of course to come home to Team Sky and pretty much everyone who has helped me to my Olympic success."