Brailsford: The criticism spurred us towards Tour de France success

Team Sky principal hails Froome’s mental strength

Standing on the Champs Élysées as the podium was wheeled out, there was no doubting Dave Brailsford was one of the happiest people in attendance of the Tour de France’s 21st and final stage for 2015. The Team Sky boss has now overseen three Tour de France victories in the last four editions of the race with Chris Froome claiming the 2015 edition 1:12 ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Froome’s second Tour victory comes just over 12-months after he crashed out of the race as the defending champion and Brailsford praised the qualities of the 30-year-old to respond in the best way possible.

“He’s an incredible guy, he’s so strong mentally,” Brailsford said of his Tour winner before the podium procedures took place.

“His resilience is second to none. I don’t think I’ve met anybody like him. It’s a privilege to be able to help him. He’s won the race, it’s all about him and the other guys in the team. The riders deserve all the credit and it’s just nice to be able to say thanks.”

When Team Sky launched in 2010 it announced the ambition of having a British Tour de France winner within five years. Having now been in the peloton for five years, Sky has more than achieved what was once considered a lofty ambition.

While some teams and individuals would be content with such a high level of success, Brailsford explained that he is already thinking about next July and success in the years ahead.

“No, we have to keep on going. We had a chat earlier because this time last year we were very much hurting and we did a brilliant debrief and really went to town on how we are going to turn it around and come back fighting,” Brailsford said of the ambition to continue the team’s Tour success. “I think just because you win it doesn’t make any difference so we’ve all ready started to think about picking this one apart and thinking what worked, what didn’t work and planning about coming back next year and doing it all again.”

Having won numerous stages with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Froome along with the 2012 and 2013 general classifications, Brailsford wouldn’t be drawn into deciding favourites.

"I think they’ve all meant something really big along the way and I think you have to take them all as individual victories and individual performances,” he said. “Certainly this one had challenges along the way but its brilliant really because it just makes you more resilient.”

With an antagonistic atmosphere engulfing the race and Sky following Froome’s stage win on La Pierre-Saint Martin that culminated in urine being thrown at the maillot jaune, aspersions cast over the team’s performances and unruly crowd behavior, Brailsford added the team thrived on the siege mentality.

“The more people have a go at you, the more you fight back so I don’t need to do much with the lads when people are having a go and being like they were, it gels them together, it pulls them together,” he said. “It gives everybody a common enemy and you just have to guide them in the right direction and let them go.

“Unbeknownst to them, all the people who criticised us probably helped us win the race.”

With the nightmare of last year’s Tour well and truly erased with victory, Brailsford explained he won’t be celebrating as hard as some of his riders as he heads off on holiday next week.

“I have a big week coming up, I am actually going on holiday which is fantastic,” he said of his plans for celebrating victory. “I am going to California with my daughter and the family so that’s really nice for me to look forward to that so I am just going to plan about that and take it easy tonight I think and go away and think I guess.”
 

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