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Pete Kennaugh has run the rule of his three leaders from his Team Sky days – Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish (Photo: Alex Broadway)

Having ridden for Team Sky for eight seasons, Peter Kennaugh has rated the team leaders he had during those years. The 34-year-old now retired ex-pro has been very honest in his appraisal of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish.

It is clear that Kennaugh regarded Froome as the least challenging team leader while Wiggins was the most difficult and awkward. Cavendish was the most demanding. Indeed, his remarks about Wiggins paint him as the least likeable of the trio while Cavendish’s ego is also clear to see as Kennaugh recalls working for him, though they remain good friends.

“Brad Wiggins compared to Chris Froome, completely different,” he said. “I don’t know if that was because Brad was going through his stuff at the time or that’s just how he had to operate in order to win the races he did.

“You’d feel very awkward in his (Wiggins’) presence… which is not great as a leader because you’d want to make everyone feel (included) and comfortable. You wouldn’t know where to look, you wouldn’t know what to say.”

Bradley Wiggins was clearly not winning too many fans around the breakfast table during his Team Sky days (Photo: Fabio Ferrari)

Kennaugh – speaking to Limitless Podcast – gave an example from 2010-11 to demonstrate his point, saying the period was his “early Sky years” when he was not yet in contention to be selected for the Tour de France.

“I remember coming down to breakfast and there was only Brad sat at this big long table set out for the riders. And I went and got my omelette and I was like ‘well, I’m going to have to sit opposite him because I don’t want to be that guy’ (who sits alone). And I sat opposite him and he didn’t even say ‘good morning’. He just picked up this newspaper and started reading it, like, in front of my face, basically.”

Kennaugh said he would “always remember that, especially now as an adult and a father – pointing out Wiggins was both at the time. He “can’t fathom” why Wiggins would behave in that way towards such a young team mate.

He added it was also part of a team leader’s responsibility to help make young riders “feel comfortable and to help them grow”, saying even though he was very young at the time he knew it wasn’t “acceptable” and thought it was “a bit weird”.

Cavendish reminded Kennaugh he wasn’t ‘Mark Cavendish from the Isle of Man’ but ‘Mark Cavendish world champion’ (Photo: Gian Mattia D’Alberto)

Kennaugh added Froome was not the type of leader who would “rally” his team or get them “fired up”, though he had a lot of other qualities that really galvanised a team and got the best out of them.

“He was very, very good at making you feel part of the team… all the stuff Brad didn’t do, basically – making you feel comfortable, making it a good environment and space to work in”. As a result “you wanted to get everything out of yourself for him, and that was great”.

When Kennaugh rode for Mark Cavendish, he said the legendary sprinter was “a completely different ball game to a GC rider”. He said the sprint days were ones of “heightened emotions” like he had never experience in his life.

“(Cavendish) expected so much from you and you knew that he was giving absolutely everything,” he said. “So for some sprinters, some other leaders, I’ve worked for, you know they’re only 85-90 per cent in. With Cav, every sprint opportunity, it was the Giro d’Italia… He would die for that win. And with that, you’re like, ‘I’ve got to die for the win’.”

Froome won the most and is perhaps no surprise that he was the most pleasant and effective team leader (Photo: Alex Broadway)

Kennaugh said on one of the stages that Cavendish won, he was in tears as he crossed the line because being lead-out man for Cavendish was such an intense experience and it was “such a release that everything had gone to plan”.

While Cavendish did not use “aggression” as such to motivate those around him “you felt like you were against everyone, in a bit of a fight… going to war”. Kennaugh said he had always had a funny relationship with Cavendish, but stressed they were both “really good friends”, with both coming from the Isle of Man and knowing each other since Kennaugh was a boy.

He added when they were on the 2012 Giro d’Italia as team mates, they had a discussion within Team Sky about how they would approach the start of the TTT.

“I disagreed with him (Cavendish) in front of everyone. And he sort of looked at me and didn’t really say anything. And then we rode off and he goes ‘Pete, you’ve gotta realise, you’ve just gotta realise lad, I’m not Mark Cavendish from the Isle of Man here, I’m Mark Cavendish world champion’. And I was like ‘yep, got that’.”

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