Brailsford upbeat despite setbacks of Giro's first week
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Brailsford upbeat despite setbacks of Giro's first week

by Conal Andrews at 7:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Sky performs well despite bad luck

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford and his riders have experienced a topsy-turvy first few days of the Giro d’Italia, with a stage one time trial win, one day in the Maglia Rosa and second in the team time trial as high points, but also crashes and splits in the bunch which most likely cost Bradley Wiggins his chance of a final podium place in the event.

Brailsford’s background is in track racing, and what this week has shown is that road competition is far more chaotic due to the size of the bunch, so-called ‘road furniture’ that provoked some of the falls in the Netherlands, and the weather, which threw strong winds, rain and hailstones at the riders.

Yet, despite those uncontrollable, unpredictable elements, Brailsford is very upbeat about things thus far. “We have had a lot of stuff happen to us this week but that's bike racing, that's one of the reasons we love the sport,” he told the Telegraph newspaper. “This last week has been absolutely brilliant for us. We have had all sorts thrown at us and responded very well. Morale is sky high, there has been a real sense of the team bonding under difficult circumstances.

"What I am most pleased about is the sheer level of performance. Sometimes luck is with you and you can win a stage and get a couple of days in a jersey without really being a stand-out performer - and no rider would ever complain about that by the way - but sometimes you can ride and perform really well with little reward.

"Brad rode superbly and bravely to win the Prologue and we were defending the pink jersey strongly on the Sunday when Brad was involved in two freak crashes. Then on Monday we were again protecting Brad well to maintain a high GC position when we were involved in another crash, with Brad losing a fair bit of time on that occasion. In such circumstances you have only one option. You just get on with it.”

Brailsford also spoke about the team time trial, saying that Chris Sutton’s early puncture didn’t help things, nor did the squalid weather which blew up when the team was out on the course. “None of our riders could see through their visors and had to rip them off in the end - and we undoubtedly lost a little time there but we dug very deep. The boys were disappointed not to win but that was a very impressive effort.”

Team Sky missed out on a win that day by just nine seconds but, in taking the runner-up slot, it showed that it is a force to be reckoned with in the discipline. Wiggins has also shown superb form thus far, driving the team onwards during that group effort and also going quickest in the prologue. And while the delays he has incurred mean that he is 48th overall, four minutes 36 seconds off the race lead, he is clearly in good shape and appears to be on track for another strong Tour de France, the team’s big goal of the season.

Despite the crashes and general unpredictability, that fact is enough to put a smile on Brailsford’s face. All is going to plan as regards the number one objective.

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