Wiggins rejects Staff’s suggestion of a weakened British track team
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Wiggins rejects Staff’s suggestion of a weakened British track team

by Conal Andrews at 7:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
 
Olympic gold medallist describes American track team as ‘useless’

Bradley WigginsResponding to a recent VeloNation interview with former team-mate Jamie Staff, Bradley Wiggins has rejected the latter’s suggestion that the British track team has suffered because Dave Brailsford has been trying to combine two intensive roles.

“I think he's got a biased view," Wiggins told Telegraph Sport, then dismissed Staff’s chances of helping the US track team to future success.

"He's leading a dead army out there," he stated. “The American cycling team are useless. I mean, they have one rider who holds the ship up in Taylor Phinney, who's pretty good.”

The tone of Wiggins’ comments is likely to stir things up with US riders and fans, who might not appreciate his bluntness. That said, Staff did state that the US track scene needed a lot of work, and that his goal was for a strong performance in the 2016 Olympics rather than in London 2012.

The former world champion and 2008 Olympic gold medallist retired this year and took up a coaching role with USA Cycling. His wife is American and the Briton said that he was happy to have the chance to help US track riders to develop.

In the course of a long interview with this website, he said that he was concerned about the British team’s chances in their home Olympics in under two years’ time.

“I would like for them to do well in all events, but with Dave Brailsford's attention turned to the road, I think it's having an effect on the track team. You need a leader,” he said.

“If your leader goes off and leads something else, you get consequences. At the end of the day it comes down to the riders obviously, but having someone to lead the army is the key. It gives the rider the belief they have the backing.

“If you remove that and the riders feel like they are on their own, then cracks can appear. I see some cracks appearing!”

Others have made the same point as Staff, particularly after the British team’s disappointing performance in the Commonwealth Games. The team coaches opted not to send some of its strongest riders, preferring instead to concentrate on working towards Olympic qualification in the later European championships.

What is clear, though, is that rival countries such as Australia have narrowed the gap since the Britons dominated the Beijing Olympics.

Brailsford’s dual roles are amongst those which were analysed in an independent review which was carried out by Deloittes this year. The goal was to clarify the working relationship between Team Sky and the Great Britain Olympic squad, and to uncover any problems that might arise as a result.

That review was announced in May and due to be completed over the summer, but no results have been announced since then.

In the meantime, the British track team are preparing for the next World Cups. The goal is to perform with distinction there and they are sending their strongest riders.

Wiggins said that he has little doubt that the British riders will perform in the next Games, and will be stronger that the American team.

“We've got a strong team. I'm not worried about them. We'll see what happens come the time when it really matters,” he said, perhaps forgetting that Staff’s stated goal is a strong US team in Rio in 2016.

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