Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has hit-back at claims that his team is the best funded professional team in cycling. He told The Guardian's Richard Moore that reports his team is supported by a mammoth £30 million (USD54 million) budget were grossly exaggerated.
Backed by broadcaster Sky, a division of media conglomerate News Limited, Brailsford said his squad was ranked behind a number of other teams in terms of its annual operating budget. Concerned about the impact budgetary rumours may be having on the image of the team, he indicated that he may soon move to reveal the true figure in order to set the record straight.
"We may circulate the International Cycling Union (UCI) list [detailing teams' budgets]," said Brailsford. "I think we're sixth in the league table. It's a total myth [that Sky is the best-funded] and I think we'll try to put that right by providing some facts. It doesn't do us any favours to have people think that."
Despite his contention over the financial rumours that have swirled around the team, Brailford was nevertheless satisfied with Sky's results at their first race, the Tour Down Under. Chris Sutton's stage six win capped a strong debut for the new squad, with New Zealander Greg Henderson riding to third overall after an earlier win in the event's curtain raiser, the Cancer Council Helpline Classic.
"If you'd told me we'd come away with two wins when we got on the plane to come down here, I'd have taken it with both hands," he said. Brailsford also pointed out that the performances had been achieved by some of the team's less-established stars.
"Russell [Downing] spent last year racing in the UK," said Brailsford. "For him to step up to [the ProTour] level – and it is another level – is a big ask, especially after spending the winter training at home in Sheffield. But he and the other guys here have done tremendously well. We've got some work to do, but we've learned a lot and we'll go home and look at it."
Sky will be able to apply the lessons learned in Australia at their next race, the GP Cycliste la Marseillaise on January 31. Sky will be represented at the French event by John-Lee Augustyn, Michael Barry, Sylvain Calzati, Steve Cummings, Peter Kennaugh, Nicolas Portal and Morris Possoni. Bradley Wiggins will then join those seven riders for his season opener at the Etoile de Bessèges, February 3-7.