"We’re Grenadiers now," the team manager twice said in an interview with Eurosport in Milan, referring to the team’s current name after petrochemical company Ineos took ownership of the team last spring.
Brailsford, who has now overseen 11 Grand Tour victories since the team was established in 2010, suggested that the change in sponsors had changed the identity of the team. Having faced criticism in some quarters for a big-budget, control-freakish approach, he was keen to highlight the Giro – where Ineos Grenadiers won seven stages and Geoghegan Hart took the overall title on the final day – as a turning point.
"What I liked about this is, we’ve done the train, we’ve done the defensive style of riding and won a lot doing that, but it’s not as much fun, really, compared to this, is it?" Brailsford said.
"At the end of day, the sport is about racing, it’s about emotion and the exhilarating moments of racing, and that’s what we want to be. We’re Grenadiers now."
We’ll never know, of course, how things would have played out if designated leader Geraint Thomas, the pre-race favourite, hadn’t crashed out on stage 3. Similarly, at the Tour de France and its build-up races, a shift in styles seemed to be necessitated by the rise of Jumbo-Visma as a collective force.
Brailsford, though, highlighted the role of Jim Ratcliffe, who bought the team in 2019 and renamed it Ineos Grenadiers this year to promote his company’s new 4x4 vehicle. Ratcliffe is the owner of the team, and after 10 years under the Sky corporation, Brailsford suggested Ratcliffe’s personal influence had guided the team in a new direction.
"I love Jim Ratcliffe. He deserves a huge amount of credit too. He’s taken us on, and he’s a pretty inspirational character," he said.
"What I like about him is that he himself is an adventurer, he’s a racer, he’s that kind of person. He’s just like 'hold on, this is about style, about how you do it, it’s not just about parking the bus.' And that gives you the freedom and the confidence just to go 'you know what, balls out, let’s go and have a go,' and I love that.
"That’s why started racing in the first place when we were kids, and I just feel that’s where we’ve gotta go, that’s what we’re gotta be. We’re the Grenadiers now. It’s a whole new different story."
"I’m emotional. I’m intense at times and I’m always thinking about things but I came to this sport as a young guy because I love racing. That’s what attracted me.
"We’ve won a lot over the last ten years but then you think: What’s it all about? It's how you go about racing, it’s about the racers. It’s about Rohan Dennis’ story or Tao from London. He went to see Bradley Wiggins when we launched Team Sky and here he is now doing this, it all connects.
"I’m relishing the new philosophy that the sport has. We’ve got to embrace that and see how good we can be at racing."
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