Is there trouble at the track in the UK?
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) says that Dave Brailsford will be a "difficult pair of shoes to fill" after the man behind Britain’s success on the track decided to step down from British Cycling.
"He took us from pretty much a team that was paying for their own travel expenses, bikes and wheels and not medalling to one of the most fears track teams in the world," Wiggins told reporters. "I’m not sure how many medals we’ve got over the last four Olympic cycles, but he’s been at the head of that and I think that says it all."
Brailsford has decided to leave his position as performance director to focus fully on his role at Team Sky. Earlier this year Brailsford hinted that he may have stretched himself too thin trying to manage the increasingly successful road team and the track team. Brailsford and Wiggins have had a long relationship between the latter’s time on the track team and his move to Sky in 2010. Wiggins says that Brailsford decision was no surprise to him and that hinted that the disquiet behind the scenes at the track is part of the reason behind the move.
"I’ve seen it coming for a while, he’s been umming and ahhing about it," said Wiggins. "I don’t this all is well at the velodrome. There’s a lot of sniping and one bad result and it’s all Dave’s fault. Yet, he was coach of the year after 2012. I think that is the sport we’re in. One minute you’re on top of the world and the next thing, one bad result, and everyone’s calling for your head. I think from his point of view, he’s taken it as far as he can take it. He’s been there for the best part of 15 years. I think it’s incredible and I’m sure someone will step in and freshen things up a bit."
The favourite to succeed Brailsford is Shane Sutton, who is currently the British Cycling head coach. Sutton has also been one of the key factors in Britain’s success on the track. Compared to Brailsford’s calm nature, Sutton is a much more outspoken character, but the former rider has often shied away from the political side of the sport.
"I’ve never imagined him as a suit and blazer person, so that remains to be seen," Wiggins said of Sutton. "Everyone knows he’s a coach and a man motivator. It will be weird seeing him in a blazer and in that politics side of things. I think he’ll rise to it. He needs to push himself and I think that he’ll rise to the challenge."
Since their domination of the last two Olympic cycles, which saw them take 16 gold medals and 26 in total, the British track team have begun to falter. They endured one of their worst World Championships in Cali earlier this year, with the men failing to take a single medal. With the next Olympic Games only two years away, time is running out for them to find that form again. Wiggins believes that Sutton is the right man to whip them into shape.
"He’s always had his ideas on how things should be. He’s quite a hard grafter and task master. I saw some of the comments after the world championships and he says it how it is," Wiggins explained. "He feels like standards have slipped a bit and some of the guys aren’t putting in the effort. He’s certainly the guy to make sure that the commitment is there and that work ethic. He’ll be different to Dave, but I think that he’ll get the right people in to do the job."
As for Wiggins’ own return to the track it could still be on, with the Brit saying that Brailsford’s departure will not effect his decision.
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