Team manager Dave Brailsford celebrated Team Sky’s dominant performance on the opening mountain stage of the Tour de France by heading to the podium to celebrate with Chris Froome, even taking a selfie of himself with Chris Froome on the podium in the yellow jersey.
Brailsford followed the stage from the Team Sky bus parked beyond the finish area at the top of the 15km climb to La-Pierre-Saint-Martin. He watched as his riders executed a clearly designed team strategy to set up Froome, so that he could power away in the final five kilometres of the climb. The British team manager also enjoyed seeing Richie Porte edge past Nairo Quintana to finish second, and Geraint Thomas’ impressive fifth place after doing so much work for Froome on the climb.
24 hours earlier Brailsford had sparked a storm at the Tour de France by suggesting that Team Sky’s training data had been hacked and used to produce a video that made veiled accusations about Froome's performance on Mont Ventoux in the 2013 Tour de France. He even threatened legal action, raising the tension in the race as he tried to neutralise accusations against his team leader.
With Froome’s rivals put to the sword and left scattered all over the Pyrenean climb, Brailsford was back in control of the Tour de France and so refused to talk about his hacking accusations, preferring to savour his moment of huge personal and professional satisfaction.
“I’m not answering hacking questions today. I’m enjoying the moment for once. We work all year to do this kind of thing, so please let me enjoy one day like this,” he said bluntly to Cyclingnews.
He was more open to talking about the performance of his riders.
“It went perfectly, exactly as we intended to do,” Brailsford said with pride.
“We came out here a couple of weeks ago to look at the climb because it’s probably one of the most sustained climbs in this year’s Tour because the first 10km are tough. Then it eases off. Our plan was that Chris would be on his own coming into the easier section, believing that he could put time into everyone. And he did.”
“All the guys did a fantastic job and it was also great to see Geraint (Thomas) finish fifth like that and to see Richie (Porte) back to his best. And Chris, well when he’s got this kind of form, I don’t think anyone can live with him.”
Brailsford was equally blunt about the under-par performances of Froome’s key rivals such as Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Tejay van Garderen, who all lost chunks of time and virtually any hope of beating Froome in this year’s race.
“I think we saw what we expected to see. I think the signs have ben there with Nibali all week,” Brailsford said dismissively of the 2014 Tour winner. “It’s brave of Contador to try to win the Giro-Tour double but he’s tired and you can see it. TJ (van Garderen) wasn’t one of the top four. He might be in the future but he’s not quite at that level yet.”