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Brailsford immersed in Giro d'Italia conundrums

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Brailsford and Cavendish are planning for gold at the London 2012 Olympics

Brailsford and Cavendish are planning for gold at the London 2012 Olympics (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mark Cavendish (Sky) adds another Grand Tour stage win to his account.

Mark Cavendish (Sky) adds another Grand Tour stage win to his account. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Geraint Thomas (Sky)

Geraint Thomas (Sky) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

It almost goes without saying that British Cycling and Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford believes that the Giro d’Italia will form an important part in the build-up for the Olympics for the GB riders in London, with Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh, amongst others, both partly using the Giro as a building process towards London.

But that is far from being Team Sky’s only goal in the Giro. It is, Brailsford told Cyclingnews, a juggling game, with various objectives all combining, and ensuring they don’t conflict is crucial.

"On the one hand we want a strong team here, win stages and help Mark [Cavendish], on the other hand we’ve got Geraint and Pete looking towards the Olympics. And then we’ve got Rigoberto [Urán] and Sergio [Henao] to keep in contention. There’s a lot of different goals, and sometimes you wonder if that could be contradictory, but all in all they’ve been working pretty well."

Brailsford cited stage five, Cavendish’s second stage win, as a case in point of where the team is integrating those goals well.

"Yesterday when Liquigas put the hammer down [in the final kilometres] Sergio really did a good job of staying on the hills. Then Rigo started to pull and then it went to the classic leadout. It was very pleasing."

As for Cavendish, with two months to go to the Olympics, the Giro is effectively the starting ramp for his final build-up for the Tour and London 2012.

"You need this solid block of work and to keep winning against Gossy [Matt Goss] like yesterday when they went head to head, all out, that’s going to give him a lot of confidence."

With a series of major sucesses already this season, Brailsford says that Sky is "gaining momentum. We keep putting the work in, confidence is high. Since Bayern last year, the Dauphine [in 2011] was another step up and then the way that Bradley [Wiggins] has ridden this year, that is a big step forward."

Brailsford does not believe, though, that Sky’s strong first third of 2012 means that they are in risk of burning themselves out before the summer.

"We’ve got a lot of battles to fight. Get the balance right, it’ll be great. But get it wrong, and it’ll be very wrong."

Looking at Sky's race so far, Brailsford says that “Obviously the first stage was great, to get that victory and get that done is very very positive, and as for Monday, I honestly believe that Mark would have won it [without the crash].

"The incredible thing about him, he’s not once mentioned any pain, he’s just got on with it, which is remarkable."

The downside has been the team time trial, where "we would have liked to have done better, but we were very conscious we wanted both our Columbians to finish in the front group."

"We didn’t want to leave them behind, and if there had been a choice of finishing with them, or being up on the platform [winner’s podium], I’d have taken the former rather than the latter."

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.