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Wiggoless Sky fired up for more Tour stage wins

Despite having lost their leader Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky were all fired up on Saturday as they set their...

The pack rides in the 213 km and third stage of the 2010 Tour de France. Picture: AFP

Despite having lost their leader Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky were all fired up on Saturday as they set their sights on more stage wins in the Tour de France.

With big engines like Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway and Welsh prodigy Geraint Thomas, the British team could well add to Boasson Hagen's stage six victory.

"The spirits are good. There's no pressure, the guys are bike racers, they just want to perform," sports director Sean Yates told reporters before the start of the eighth stage on Saturday.

"Edvald's got a stage under his belt already which is great but there will be a lot of opportunities and I'm sure he will take them and he's got a good chance of repeating that win."

Team Sky are down to eight riders after Briton Wiggins pulled out after sustaining a collarbone fracture in a crash during the seventh stage on Friday.

With no team leader, the riders will have more freedom to play their cards with two weeks still left in the race.

"We've lost our GC (general classification) man but I think it just gives us all an opportunity to race everyday and try and win some stages," said Thomas, who is 38th in the overall standings, 3:18 off the pace.

BIG ENGINE

The fact that Boasson Hagen already won a stage dramatically eased the pressure as a Team Sky rider had previously never raised his arms on the Tour de France.

"Obviously Eddy's got a stage and that's great for the team, if we hadn't got that we'd be in an even worse situation," said Thomas.

"And there would be a lot of pressure on us. But we still have eight strong bike riders."

Yates reckoned Thomas, who has one of the biggest 'engines' in the peloton, could well wear the yellow jersey one day -- which would bring huge exposure to the team.

"I'm sure that there will be some stage in the very near future that he could get in a breakaway and take the yellow jersey," said Yates.

"We know what he's capable of. The situation of the race is very unclear potentially as in who's going to control it.

"There could be a scenario where a big break goes and they take a lot of time. It's been seen before and I'm sure it will happen again some time."

In 2006, Oscar Pereiro took the yellow jersey after a breakaway gained considerable time. The Spaniard lost the jersey to finish second overall before being declared the Tour winner when American Floyd Landis was stripped of his title for a doping offence.

Thomas, however, would not be dragged into such considerations.

"Not me for GC, no," he quipped.

"I just don't have the threshold, the weight, the power to climb with the best here. Not this year, for sure."

Timeline

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