Sitting in the auditorium at the Tour de France presentation in Paris yesterday was Sky's team director Dave Brailsford. It was Brailsford's first appearance at an unveiling of a Tour route but the man who guided Britain to success on the track at the Beijing Olympics was excited about the prospect of commanding a team towards the biggest race in the world.
"It's got the making of a good route," Brailsford told Cyclingnews. "It should be a really interesting race. I very much like the history of the Tour. The presentation reminded you of that and where this race fits in the context of the sport. It's an iconic sporting event."
Brailsford praised the 2010 parcours chosen by the race organiser ASO. "The single time trial, the lack of team time trial, the cross winds, the pavé and more climbing than last year with it centralizing around the Tourmalet, mean that it could be a very exciting race."
Sky are yet to secure a place in cycling's biggest race and will have to wait until April before a decision on team 'wildcards' is decided by ASO. In order to meet the blurry requirements, Brailsford, and more importantly his riders, will need to hit the ground running when they begin racing at the Tour Down Under in January.
"The challenge for us is to get into the race. We have to think very carefully about that and how we're going to do it. The question we'll pose ourselves is: why would the ASO give us a wildcard? We'll figure it out and do our best," said Brailsford, who has signed riders well equipped to compete in many of the early season races and Classics.
However, Brailford's work will have to base around the likelihood Sky will be invited to race in July, such is the team's backers and the cycling-aware public in Britain who know far more about the Tour than any other race. As yet, 16 riders have been announced with a further flurry of transfer announcements set for the coming weeks.
Brailsford already has an idea about his strongest Tour de France line-up. "It's fair enough to say that there are certain candidates that would be above others but that's still all got to be figured out. We're happy with the riders we have and when we sit down and analyse the route we'll set our targets accordingly. If we did get an invite we'd want to leave an imprint on the race."
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