Dave Brailsford may no longer be part of the British Cycling track set-up, where he was one of the key figures in a decade of velodrome success, but the Sky manager admits that it would be almost impossible for him not to “keep one eye” on the Track World Championships this week – particularly as the event comes at a point in the build-up to the Rio 2016 Olympics where, Brailsford said, “you really want to start seeing some progression.”
Brailsford is currently at the Vuelta a Andalucia but while his main focus is on directing Team Sky’s efforts here, he told Cyclingnews that he will be following the Worlds as closely as he can “using things like that special track racing channel the UCI have got on the internet.”
“I got a few texts from Shane [Sutton, GB Track coach] this morning, wished him good luck and I’m sure he’s done a good job, I’m sure the team will do all right, their trajectory’s good and they’ve good momentum building towards Rio now,” Brailsford said in La Rábida on Wednesday.
“You’ve got London Worlds next year and then it’s onto the big one, you really want to start seeing some progression and then really build through this upcoming year now to the 2016 Worlds, which will be in London again, which is fantastic for the squad. That’s going to a real benefit to have a home World Championships before going off to Rio, a great opportunity, and like I say I think they’re progressing. It’s a ‘build phase.’”
For Chris Froome and Team Sky, the Vuelta a Andalucia marks the beginning of the long build-up to the Tour de France in July. “It’s one of our first races of the season, the first I’ve been on this year, too, and we’ve got a lot of new riders, and the important thing is to race well, race hard and take it as it is. We’re in February, so we want to get some good morale out of it.”
Froome has chosen to make his 2015 debut in Spain this year after opting for the Tour of Oman in the past two seasons. The decision to start with a harder race in February is, Brailsford said, designed to ensure that he is operating at a higher level earlier in the year.
“It’s sometimes good to change the race program, otherwise it becomes Groundhog Day after a while. It was a change, and it’s a different challenge at this time of year and that’s a good thing,” he said. “The race is definitely harder than Oman, which is generally very easy and then balls-out at the end. The general challenge here is more demanding, and it’s a good way to get a season going. Nobody’s at the top of his game, so that plays a part. It’s the performance rather than the end result that matters right now.”
The Vuelta a Andalucia pits Froome in a direct confrontation with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), though both men are aware that their seasons will be judged on what comes later. “It’s more important to race well and get the attention to detail, make sure we race in a disciplined way, and we’ll take what we get,” Brailsford said.
Brailsford remains on the Spanish race until Friday before heading to San Francisco, on a fact-finding mission. “I’m going to see some companies there, when you look at the world of tech and human performance, if you want to stay abreast of it, you’ve got to get amongst it,” he said.
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 Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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