There’s nothing like a good leak"¦ especially the two we saw this year, writes Anthony Tan.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

For the cycling journalist, it's that time of the year where one has a rare month or so to reflect on events past before planning for next season begins. Or at least thinking about it before planning a holiday instead.

Rather than pen a verbose 12-volume season in review (which tend to be a bit naff anyway), I'll offer what I believe to be cycling's two worst-kept secrets this year, then extrapolate a little.

The first has to be Mark Cavendish's move to Team Sky. Initially leaked in June, it wasn't till 12 October that an official statement was released by the world champ's new team, even though it was clear from the outset he wasn't really going anywhere else.

"I kind of always felt I would end up with them," Cavendish told the London Telegraph last Tuesday. "It's logical. It's the best team, it has got the best back-up and it'll be good to ride with guys who I will ride with at the Olympics. For British cycling it's the right move."

A far greater surprise came two months earlier, when news broke that Cav's lead-out man par excellence, Mark Renshaw, had chosen the path less travelled, hatching a two-year deal with Rabobank.

Will Cavendish miss Renshaw? Of course he will – exactly how much, nobody yet knows.

I think it'll be Renshaw who will feel most out of sorts, having plied his trade as a lead-out specialist for the past six seasons. But the assiduous, no-nonsense way he has gone about that business will doubtless continue into his workings with Rabo, and in Graeme Brown and Michael Matthews, pairing up with two other affable Aussies will surely fillip both morale and prospects.

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The not inconspicuous rainbow jersey Cavendish will wear till 23 September next year – which by then he's certain to relinquish, since the 2012 road worlds will be staged in Holland's bumpy Limburg region – is unlikely to bother him; the world's best sprinter the past three seasons, the Manxman almost always has a target on his back.

Besides, Cadel Evans and Thor Hushovd have both demonstrated the 'curse of the rainbow jersey' is as valid a proposition as the Loch Ness Monster.

What will be intriguing, though, is how Team Sky principal, Dave Brailsford, will organise and prosecute a dual strategy throughout next season – and for that matter, the years to come, as both Bradley Wiggins and Cavendish have said Sky is their natural home. Wiggins has already made it crystal clear he will not compromise his chances at the Tour simply because 2012 will be an Olympic year, or the fact that the XXX Olympiad will be staged in his hometown.

The yellow and green jerseys have not been won together since 1997, when Germans Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel won their respective maillots jaune et vert.

In this highly specialised era we're now living and breathing, I have my reservations whether a two-pronged approach is achievable. One saw how much Evans demanded from his entire team to win year's Tour; by consequence, BMC Racing has been strengthened still for the 2012 Grande Boucle.

"I wouldn't have joined them if I didn't think it was possible [to go for both GC and the green jersey]," Cavendish told the Telegraph, but in the same interview inferred he had no idea how such a plan would work.

"You'll have to ask Dave Brailsford," was all he would say.

The power of Team Sky is redoubtable; among sizeable talents with egos to match, the required alchemy for success is entirely another matter. Either way, Cav is sure to let the world know how things are progressing via his newfound public foghorn that he joined prior to this year's Tour, otherwise known as Twitter.

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The second worst-kept secret was of course next year's Tour route, leaked eight days before it was officially announced.
Until this year, ASO had done a sterling job of keeping the juicy details guarded as if their Issy-les-Moulineaux office in Paris' outer suburbs was Fort Knox. But rather than being a WikiLeaks-style security breach of dramatic proportions, it was more than likely a computer nerd who decided to conduct some beta testing when he thought no-one else was looking at ("Non… did I just click 'post'? Merde!")

At the official launch on 18 October inside Paris' Palais des Congrès, Tour director Christian Prudhomme took the very un-Frenchman-like, self-deprecating step of making a joke about it, even if Fabrice the computer nerd is now tasked with replacing ink cartridges.

But if you feel sorry for Fabrice spare a thought for Andy Schleck, who will be faced with 53.6 more time-trial kilometres than 2011 and must already be looking towards the 2013 Tour.

"I know I have to improve with time-trials, but there were a lot of time-trials in 2010 and I nearly won that," retorted Schleck the Younger, when faced with the obvious snipes regarding his ability (or perhaps more correctly, lack of) against the watch.

Sorry, mate – there were only 60.9km in 2010; nothing like the requisite 96.1km next year. Having said that, in 2008, the year Carlos Sastre won, there were 82.5 individual time-trial kilometres.

If Andy comes into the race with better condition than this year and attacks like he did on the stage to the Col du Galibier, there may be a glimmer of hope for the likeable rogue from Luxembourg. And with Johan Bruyneel as top dog, he won't be encouraged to prepare better – he'll be told to prepare better.

Twitter: @anthony_tan