An Irish journalist has said he felt “more amused than threatened” after Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford yesterday attempted to block the reporter from the team’s media event over unfavourable coverage of his evasive attitude to the press, writes Joe Leogue.
CyclingNews has reported that Brailsford singled out its reporter Barry Ryan ahead of the Team Sky media event on the second rest day of the Tour de France.
Brailsford approached a group of journalists at the hotel hosting the event outside Le Puy-en-Velay, and told Ryan he was not welcome.
“You’re not invited. We have invited the people we want to speak to. You’ve been writing shit about me,” Brailsford told Corkman Ryan, according to the website. Ryan had written a feature on Brailsford on the eve of the Tour, and the article in question is believed to have been the motivation behind Brailsford’s intervention.
Brailsford refused to disclose, when asked, what aspects of the article he disagreed with. “I’m not getting into that. It was opinion, you write shit,” he said. “We make ourselves available, we answer all the questions and you write this shit.”
Ryan likened Brailsford’s banning of a reporter from a press event to the actions of disgraced sporting director Johan Bruyneel.
The Team Sky Boss then asked: “Are you accusing me of running a doping programme as well?” “Well, UK Anti-Doping are investigating that...” Ryan replied.
At this point Brailsford said “You can stick it up your arse” and walked away.
Ryan told the Irish Examiner he felt more ‘amused than threatened’ by Brailsford’s behaviour.
“This is the kind of treatment of the media we have come to expect from Team Sky and Brailsford in particular,” Ryan said. “Their riders are accessible, but Brailsford has increasingly withdrawn from the media over the past year and a half or so.”
The article Brailsford took issue with detailed this increasing detachment from the media, and Mr Ryan said his “absurd” behaviour only proved the point he made in the piece published last month.
“By saying nothing, Brailsford seems to think he is evincing strength and stability,” Mr Ryan wrote at the time.
Despite Brailsford’s efforts, Ryan successfully attended and covered the Team Sky media event.
Meanwhile Chris Froome expects to be on his best form in the final week of the Tour de France as he fights to hold on to the yellow jersey in the closest battle this race has ever seen.
Just 29 seconds cover the top four as Team Sky’s Froome leads by 18 seconds from Italian national champion Fabio Aru, with Frenchman Romain Bardet a further five seconds back in third and former Sky rider Rigoberto Uran of Colombia looking ominous in fourth, while Ireland’s Dan Martin is just 72 seconds behind the Briton.
The race will head towards the Alps after yesterday’s rest day, with stages tomorrow and Thursday potentially decisive before Saturday’s time trial in Marseille.
Froome believes he is just about to peak.
“I certainly feel as if I’m on an upward curve,” the Briton said.
“I came in with the least amount of race days ever coming into a Tour de France. I really do feel as if I’m coming up and the last few days have been evidence of that.”
Martin sits just 72 seconds off the lead of the Tour de France, but the Irishman could hardly be more relaxed as he insists it is just another bike race.
“I just keep enjoying myself,” he said on Monday’s rest day. “I think you can see I’m very relaxed around the race and in the race. Everybody sees the Tour as this huge thing but it’s still only a bike race.
“Separating yourself from the enormity of what it is possible to achieve in the next few days is important because we’re all human, we all have two wheels and we all have a mountain to get over.”
Martin appears to be in the form of his life, and that is despite the fact he is still suffering the effects of a major crash on the Mont du Chat during stage nine.
More than a week on, Martin’s back muscles remain in spasm, requiring daily treatment, but he is optimistic he can be back to 100% by the time the race heads into the Alps tomorrow and Thursday.
Martin snatched back time on his general classification rivals on Friday’s stage 13 into Foix and stage 15 to Le Puy-en-Velay on Sunday, spotting late opportunities and making them pay. There’s a bit of bluffing going on with the four riders who are really close on GC and that’s allowed me to come back into the frame,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’ve been stronger, I’ve just been taking advantage.”
“I never set objectives and I never set out my ambitions,” he said. “People say my life is going to change (if I win). My life is not going to change if I win the Tour de France. I don’t need to win the Tour de France.
“It would be nice, but at the end of the day I’m just going to do my best. If my best is better than the other guys I’ll win. If it’s not, they were better than me. All I can do is my best and as long as that happens I’ll be happy.”
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.