Team Sky looks to regroup after a difficult day in the Pyrenees
Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford talked to the media at length after the Pyrenean stage to Bagneres-de-Bigorre, analyzing Team Sky's difficult day and trying to convince anyone who would listen to him to see Team Sky's glass as half full rather than half empty.
Chris Froome still leads the Tour de France, looked strong and will no doubt extend his 1:25 lead on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the time trial stage on Wednesday. However that is where the good news ends for Team Sky.
Vasili Kiryienka headed home instead of taking the Tour de France plane to Nantes after missing the time cut, Geraint Thomas is still suffering after fracturing his pelvis and the other domestiques no longer seem as unbeatable as they were in last year's triumphant race when Team Sky escorted Bradley Wiggins to victory.
"Yesterday was one of our best days and today was one of toughest. But everyone who said the Tour was over will have to think twice tonight. But that's why this sport is brilliant, you never known what's around the corner," Brailsford said.
"I think it's actually a good thing for the sport and for the race. People like suspense to last as long as possible. It might not be great for me but I can recognise a good thing. It looks we've got a race on our hands and so does everyone else. It's too early to call a winner of this race."
Confident for the time trial
Brailsford is confident that Froome can take more vital seconds in the 33km time trial from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel time trial.
"If you'd given me the opportunity of going into the rest day with the advantage we've got before the time trial, for sure we'd have taken it. We've got to be happy with the first week," he said.
"I think Chris is equal to Quintana and was never really under pressure. Chris showed he's in great shape. Let's see where we're at after the time trial. I think a lot of the other teams looked at us today and think: 'There's an opportunity there', on the other hand they look at Chris as an individual and think: 'Blimey he's strong'.
"Froome is very a resilient guy and is going well. That's what counts. Physically he was never under pressure."
Surprised by Porte's poor performance
Brailsford admitted that he was surprised to see Richie Porte have such a bad day after riding so well on Saturday. The Tasmanian was dropped early on when Movistar blew the race apart. He doggedly tried to chase but eventually sat up and finished 18 minutes down, losing any hope of a good overall classification.
"It was unexpected, it's not often we see Richie have a day like that to be honest. He obviously went deep and paid for that effort (on Saturday)," the British manager said.
"He looked fantastic yesterday but they really attacked hard and after that it wasn't his best day. There was no point in hanging on to a gap of two or three minutes, it was better to save his legs and go on from there. These things happen and I'm sure he'll be back to his best later in the race."
Porte's bad day at least resolves one potential problem for Team Sky: there will be no internal power struggle as two riders both fight for a place on the final Tour de France podium.
Brailsford denied it will leave Team Sky tactically poorer.
"I don’t think it means anything tactically. If anything, it makes you all committed to one rider. I think that might be a positive thing," he said.
"Yesterday was a hard day for the team which may have taken its toll but if you take the two days collectively, we've got a boat load of time. That's what it's about really. We'll regroup tomorrow and make our plans for the rest of the race."
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