David De la Cruz has likened his new team principal, Dave Brailsford, to the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The Spaniard, who will ride with Team Sky next season, praised Brailsford for what he called "an innate ability to transmit and spread his dreams" and said he had the team's full support as they look to win all three Grand Tours.
"I would define him as the Steve Jobs of cycling. He is very intelligent, but from what I see he stands out as much for his leadership as for his way of communicating," De la Cruz told Spanish newspaper, Sport. "He has an innate ability to transmit and spread to us all of his dreams. It makes you believe that what he says is possible.
"In seven years he has won the most important race in the world five times, but his ambition has not diminished. Now he wants to win the big three because nobody has done that until now. And the whole team is behind that dream and participating in the goal."
Brailsford has been at the head of Team Sky since their debut season in 2010 but has endured a difficult season at the top following the revelations surrounding the 'jiffy-bag' scandal and his handling of it. One rider told Cyclingnews in March that a number of riders had considered asking him to step down amidst the scandal. However, several others then tweeted their support of the team principal, in response to the claim.
Taking a step forward
De la Cruz is moving to Team Sky after a three-year spell with the Quick-Step Floors team and two years with NetApp-Endura prior to that. At both squads, De la Cruz did not face much competition for his burgeoning talent as a stage-race rider. Quick-Step Floors had Dan Martin and Bob Jungels, but he was allowed a certain amount of freedom in his role. At Team Sky, De la Cruz accepts that the competition will be much tougher but he believes that, in the long run, the move will be beneficial for him.
"I have the impression that with them I will take a step forward and that is what I want," he said. "There is a second reason. I am a general classification rider and his philosophy is more suited to my characteristics. It is true that will be harder to find my space than in Quick-Step, but if the case comes I will have more support to fight for my goals. Had I been a sprinter or a classics rider I would not have moved from Quick-Step. But I want to improve as a rider."
The 28-year-old is one of seven new signings, including compatriot Jonathan Castroviejo, as the British team tries to shore up its Grand Tour squad following a number of departures. His arrival will fill some of the gap that was left by Mikel Landa, who will switch to Movistar over the winter. Landa ultimately left to gain more freedom as a team leader, particularly after the frustrations he felt at the Tour de France. De la Cruz, who has been named as a potential Tour de France rider for next season, says he has his goals but he will be happy to help Chris Froome.
"I have my ambitions and my dreams. To say otherwise would be a lie," explained De la Cruz. "I will be happy to work for a rider that is better than me, and at the Tour, it is clear that if I go it will be to help a cyclist who has won it four times. Let's not fool ourselves. But then I know that I will also have my space and that I will find it."
There have been flashes of promise throughout De la Cruz's career but it has been a slow burn in terms of his stage racing talent. The 2016 Vuelta a Espana proved a breakthrough for him with his stage win and seventh-place overall finish. This year, De la Cruz arrived at his home Grand Tour off the back of a podium finish at the Vuelta a Burgos. He was on course for another top 10 until a heavy crash on a wet descent during the penultimate stage finished his race a day early.
De la Cruz says that he has the ability to reach the podium in a Grand Tour but says that luck needs to be on his side.
"This year I had the level to be in the top five, but a fall took everything from me," he said. "I had the level but I did not have the luck. I have the capacity to do a podium; winning is something different. Purito [Joaquim Rodriguez], for example, could have won a three-week race but never did it. To achieve victory you have to combine many factors - fitness, a good team that supports you, and, above all, luck. If everything goes like this, I hope to get great results."