Dave Brailsford: driven by the pain of losing

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has revealed that it was the pain he felt at the team’s failed bid for Tour de France glory in 2010 that forced him to reassess his approach and turn the team’s fortunes around.

With the British squad going into the final five days of this year’s Tour with Bradley Wiggins in yellow and Chris Froome in second, Brailsford admits that Sky’s first season was a failure, but credits that failure with driving the current unprecedented success.

“I’ve always had a lot of confidence in what we do,” Brailsford told Cycling News HD, “but during our first year and certainly during that year’s Tour de France it was excruciating. I knew we weren’t doing things right, that we could do them better. I found that very difficult to deal with.

“There are two things that make you change your behaviour. The suffering has to be enough or the reward has to be enough. If either of those aren’t big enough, you’re not going to change and you will keep on doing what you’ve been doing. For me in that first year the suffering was certainly enough. We’ve not stopped working since, we’ve been working our arses off and we won’t stop. For me, the key thing is that the pain of losing is bigger than the emotion of winning. That feeling enables to me to drive the whole team on.”

Asked if he saw the race as a battle between Team Sky’s methods and those of the traditional continental cycling fraternity, Brailsford is adamant that is not the case.

“Not at all,” he said. “It’s about working within a sport we love. We made our philosophy work within one discipline and felt that if we took the same approach in terms of good coaching, good conditioning, good science, good logic, of looking after the riders and putting them first, then there would be no reason why it wouldn’t work.”

And work it has, as Sky sit in the top two positions on the podium with Paris in sight, but Brailsford admits this has presented its own difficulties.

"There’s no doubt that one of the challenges of this race has been having two guys so high on GC,” said Brailsford. “We had similar situation in the Vuelta. But we’re going to keep on building towards winning this race.”

 The full version of this exclusive interview with Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford is just one example of what you can find inside our new digital magazine, Cycling News HD (opens in new tab). Delivered to your iPad every Wednesday, Cycling News HD (opens in new tab) brings you the best all-new cycling photography in the world via the best medium for viewing it, as well as reports, results and exclusive analysis of all the week’s biggest races, in-depth previews of the races and stages to watch in the week ahead, interviews, news and opinion.

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