Tim Kerrison, the leading coach behind Team Sky’s two Tour de France wins, has told Cyclingnews that the team’s evaluation of their 2014 performance has already begun and that the team are fully focused on winning back the yellow jersey in 2015.
Team Sky’s Tour de France fell apart on stage 4 of the race when defending champion and pre-race favourite, Chris Froome, crashed. He fell twice more during the following stage and abandoned the race as a result. Although the squad rallied around Richie Porte the Australian’s inconsistent form and an illness in the second week saw their second leadership overall bid fail.
The team were forced to hunt for stage wins thereafter but came up short and they leave the race with their poorest performance to date since forming in 2010.
“The key moment for us was when we lost Chris. Initially, Richie stepped into his shoes and did a good job for the first half of the race. Then he got a bit sick and I think everyone could see that there was a huge change in his performance from the first half to the second half of the race. It proved to be quite difficult for the whole team once something we’d been working for all year wasn’t there anymore,” Kerrison told Cyclingnews.
At the finish of stage 20 Porte told Cyclingnews that Team Sky’s performance at the Tour hadn’t been on the cards despite a less than ideal preparation. The team have been plagued with bad luck and issues all season. Question marks over their exclusion of Bradley Wiggins at the race may not have affected performance but Froome and Porte have both had injuries this season. The 2013 champion also faced the glare of the media due to a legal Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) used during the Tour de Romandie and even when he looked to be back on track – as shown in the first two days of the Dauphiné – a serious fall later in the race dented his Tour hopes.
Kerrison believes that it is too early to draw any conclusions from this year’s Tour but Sky’s dominance in stage races has been put to the sword. The marginal gains approach that led to success upon success has been replicated, tweaked and improved.
“It’s certainly been a very disappointing Tour for the whole team for all the guys. You can’t win all the time and we’ve had a great couple of years. We’ve still got a great team of people and if anything, this will be the stimulus for us as a whole team to go away and then come back and reclaim the yellow jersey next year,” Kerrison added.
“The first thing we need to do is try and understand the performance from this race. Health was probably an element and we know that when a team is riding for the race or trying to defend GC everyone steps up and probably similarly when you’re not it’s pulled from under you and it has an effect on you mentally, emotionally and physically.”
“It would be easier to say that if Chris was here then it would have been different but we need to have a good look at the whole team, where we would have been if Chris had been here and what still went wrong that we could have avoided. It’s a bit like crashing. You can’t always prevent crashing but you can prevent yourself so that you minimise risk, and it’s the same with health.”
Froome is more likely than not to start this year’s Vuelta a España next month. The team have yet to state whether he will be riding to win or using the three weeks of racing as a base for 2015 but Kerrison and the rest of the Team Sky management will need to learn from their mistakes quickly and efficiently if they are to return to France and reclaim yellow.
“From a week ago, we started to look at things and we’ll go through a phase of restructure, which we do every year anyway. We need to make sure that Chris is motivated and back on his bike next year because he’s not happy seeing someone else wear the yellow jersey and win the race so convincingly.”
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