Dave Brailsford has hinted that he could step down as Ineos Grenadiers manager, revealing that a string of health problems have forced him to consider his long-held role at the team.
The 57-year-old was treated for prostate cancer in 2019 and earlier this year suffered a 'heart issue' that required surgery.
He was in Paris for the final stage of the Tour de France on Sunday but has been a quiet presence on the 2021 edition of the race.
"If I do have any further health issues, I won’t be able to continue. I’m pretty clear about that," he said.
"I’m trying to look after myself but I’m here to help other people, to lead and support other people. If the moment comes when you’re trying to support yourself more, then it’s time to get out."
Brailsford revealed his cancer scare in 2019, receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer just ahead of that year’s Tour de France and then undergoing an operation to remove the prostate shortly after it.
This year, he reportedly revealed he’d suffered a heart issue in a discussion on the sport app Strava, telling one user that he underwent surgery for a ‘totally blocked artery’ that was causing chest pain.
“When you have what you think are life-threatening moments twice in the space of two years, you wonder what will happen,” Brailsford told the Guardian.
“The cancer one was scary but manageable, but the heart issue felt different, way more scary. Then you start asking the question: ‘how long will my health last?’”
Brailsford played down any suggestion the heart scare might have been linked to the medical tribunal into former team doctor Richard Freeman, who, around the same time, was found guilty of ordering testosterone ‘knowing or believing’ it was for a rider.
“It’s a stressful job, that goes with the territory. Not only in the last year, but over the last 10 years I think. When you’re successful like we have been, you get a lot of questions asked. Coming to France in the past, and the challenges we’ve had – it’s part of the job, and it takes some resilience to deal with that.”
Brailsford also offered his assessment of his team’s Tour de France. They had won seven of the 11 Tours since they started but have now gone two years without a yellow jersey, even if Richard Carapaz did secure another podium finish. Brailsford said that early crashes “changed the dynamic totally”, leaving the likes of Geraint Thomas, Tao Geoghegan Hart, and Richie Porte below their best.
“We never got into the flow of it from there and it changed the opportunities for us. [Primoz] Roglic crashing out also changed the dynamic of the race so it ended up being a very different race than we expected,” Brailsford said.
“This is our 34th Grand Tour and we’ve won 12 and I don’t think that’s an accident. There have been two Grand Tours this year. We have won one and finished third in the other. We have won more stage races this year than we have ever won, so I’m not sure where any pessimism is coming from.”
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