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Team Sky on the brink of history after stage 16
Team Sky boss David Brailsford once again hailed the team ethic of his riders following a brutal 16th stage at the 2012 Tour de France, which saw the positions of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome remain unaltered at the head of the general classification as they search for a first British win in the race.
Yet he was also outspoken in his belief that the job they came to do isn't complete and the history that they are trying to make hasn't quite been written. With four stages left there is plenty of talk here that this Tour de France is all over - many are claiming that they have already heard the fat lady start to sing, but Brailsford isn't one of them.
"We'll wake up tomorrow morning and we'll race as if it's the first day of the Tour de France," Brailsford told reporters at the finish of the gruelling 197km Pyrenean stage from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon – a war of attrition that had featured four lung-bursting climbs in temperatures that reached over 30 degrees Celsius.
"The danger is that as you get closer people start jumping to conclusions about the result and it's probably our biggest threat – to allow that to happen. We need vigilance and to take every kilometre as it comes tomorrow and to keep on racing hard like the guys have done."
In recent days many have tried to breach the protective wall that Brailsford and his staff have built around his team over the last few months – questioning the unity of the team following Froome's interview with a British newspaper last weekend in which he hinted at his frustration at being limited to a domestique role for race leader Wiggins and questioned whether or not he would be able to achieve his ambitions at Sky. But Brailsford pointed to today's performance on the road as proof of the togetherness of his squad.
"It was a big stage and with the amount of climbing energy and hydration was always going to be a big factor," he said. "But the boys came through it with flying colours. Christian [Knees] was outstanding, Bernie Eisel was outstanding then Eddy [Boasson Hagen] took it up. Richie [Porte] and Mick [Rogers] then did some fantastic work and then Froomey Bradley never looked under any pressure to be honest.
"[The unity of the squad] was there for all to see. People like to speculate and make more of the team dynamics than there actually is. I think they proved again today that when they race they race as a team and as a unit and that's what this team's all about."