Dave Brailsford has told Cyclingnews that Team Sky will learn from the mistakes and misfortune of the 2014 Tour de France, with the British team unlikely to change its strategy, team leadership or ambitions in 2015.
Despite crashing out on stage five, fracturing his wrist and hand, Chris Froome is expected to bounce back and lead Team Sky's assault at the Tour de France in 2015 with Richie Porte still his key wingman and possible alternative.
Nine riders are out of contract at Team Sky this year and Brailsford has been working hard to reshape the team as it enters a post-Bradley Wiggins era. The first ever British 2102 Tour de France winner is now expected to stay with Team Sky as he winds down his road career and targets success on the track at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. However he is unlikely to ever ride the Tour de France again, with Paris-Roubaix, other stage races and possibly the hour record his goals for 2015.
Brailsford is also looking for experienced directors sportif to lead his riders in key races. Giuseppe Martinelli's son David is set to sign a contract as a young rider on the team but Brailsford flatly denied a report in Gazzetta dello Sport that the current Astana directeur sportif could join the team in 2015.
Martinelli won the Tour de France with Marco Pantani in 1998 and has won the Giro d'Italia with five different riders. He has never been directly implicated in a doping scandal but his long history in the dark days of the sport makes him incompatible with Team Sky's stance on doping and image as a clean team.
Learning from problems
Team Sky dominated the last two editions of the Tour de France with Wiggins and Froome but has been reduced to a spectator role in this year's fight for the yellow jersey. The wheels came off Team Sky's hopes of a historic third consecutive Tour de France victory when Froome crashed out and Porte lost time in the Alps due to the heat and illness.
The team is now targeting stage victories but Brailsford insisted that Team Sky will be back with Froome as team leader in 2015. He vowed to learn from the problems Team sky has faced this year at the Tour.
"He's certainly one of our best riders, he's won the Tour de France before and I honestly think he'd have won it this year," Brailsford said of Froome when speaking to Cyclingnews.
"What has happened to us in this year's Tour has shown just how hard it is to win this race. It's given us some real perspective. Nothing is guaranteed in sport and the moment you think you can rock up and automatically perform is the moment that it will kick you up the arse."
"When it's going well, it's relatively easy, it’s enjoyable and everybody is bouncing with energy. But when it doesn't go plan, it's a challenging scenario and a challenging environment. That's when you see someone's real character. And if I'm honest, you do learn more from failure than success."
"The acid test for us this year is if we learn from what's happened. If we don’t learn from it and keep on doing the same old thing, I think some serious questions could be asked."
Showing character in difficult times
Despite losing Froome and with Porte fighting illness, Brailsford praised his riders and staff for staying focused and ready to make the most of their possibilities.
"We had a team of guys who came here thinking they were going to win it again. They lost their leader after five days and recalibrated around Richie, our Plan B. They went into the rest day in second place overall, thinking they can still get a great result. That's gone out the window now but they're still going and still going on the attack and getting in breaks.”
“The way that Geraint Thomas and Mikel Nieve got in the break on the stage to Risoul and pushed on, was a real credit to them and is what this team is all about. We want to win but if you dig deep when things go against you, that's when you see true character and I think we're seeing that in the team."
"You can't expect to win all the time. You can win with dignity and you can lose with dignity and there are three things that we can still do in this Tour: be professional, stay disciplined and organized and show some real character. That's what I'll be looking for in the team during the final week of the Tour."