Sir Bradley Wiggins has claimed Simon Yates would have not have achieved his historic La Vuelta success had he chosen to pursue his career with Team Sky.
Former Team Sky stalwart Wiggins believes Yates' decision to steer clear of one of the sport's most pre-eminent teams enabled him to storm to victory in Madrid on Sunday.
Yates had been widely expected to join Team Sky in the wake of his points race triumph at the World Track Championships in Belarus in 2013, but the move was never sealed over confusion relating to the role of his twin brother Adam.
Wiggins told Europort's The Bradley Wiggins Show: "If he'd gone to Sky, I don't think he'd have won the Vuelta.
"It was sliding doors moment, whether his career would have gone down this path. By nature of the fact that Sky wouldn't take Adam as well in one package, he's ended up finding a great team and won a grand tour at 26."
It is not the first time Wiggins has spoken out against his former employers.
Last February, asked to give advice to Tom Pidcock, whom he had signed up to his new under-23 team, Wiggins replied: "Don't go to Sky... go somewhere else, because they will ruin you."
Wiggins' opinions appear to stem from Team Sky's habit of signing up young rising stars to act as so-called "super-domestiques" to their leading grand tour contenders, in recent years mostly Chris Froome.
Ironically, any belated move by Team Sky to sign up Yates as a leading rider in the wake of his success could be complicated by their own zero-tolerance policy and Yates' positive test for terbutaline in 2016.
Wiggins said Yates deserved extra praise for the way in which he fought back from his disappointment in the Giro d'Italia just four months ago, when a nightmare stage 19 plunged him out of contention.
Having worn the race leader's maglia rosa for the best part of a fortnight, Yates finished more than 38 seconds down on the Colle de Finestre on a day that paved the way for Froome's come-from-behind success.
"We all knew that Simon was capable of it," added Wiggins. "To execute it was obviously another thing, but I'm certainly not surprised because he's been knocking on the door for years."
"We asked whether (the Giro) could have been the best thing that ever happened to him and I think it probably was because he's learned from it and now he's won the Vuelta.
"At 26 he's got chances to win more Giros and more tours down the line. There's only one way to learn and that's through mass failures, and that must have been a massive disappointment for him."