The former performance director of British Cycling has been in the eye of a storm which centres on what that package contained. And his position wasn’t given any support this week when his star rider and three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome refused to publicly back him.
In a leaked British Cycling report, Brailsford was described as “untouchable” but he has received close to unanimous support from the Sky board, its riders and staff. He had not spoken to the media since Team Sky’s training camp in Mallorca in early January but he did respond to questions from journalists when he surprisingly showed up at Tirreno-Adriatico yesterday, where the team are competing.
He denied he had anything to hide and that he intends to continue in his role at the helm of the team.
“Of course I’m not hiding. I’m fine in myself and I’ve got confidence in my team,” he said.
“No. My thoughts are about what’s good for the team and what’s right. We’re just here to win as many races as possible and do it the right way and that’s my primary concern.
“I’m disappointed that anything from the past, I’m not saying there was any wrongdoing, but that the current guys within the team get any reflection from something, which has nothing to do with them. On the other hand, we’ve got to move forward. Personally, I’m fine.”
Irish national champion Nicolas Roche weighed in on the debate admitting that “something doesn’t add up”.
“The controversy surrounding Team Sky at the moment, I believe, concerns just a few people but is tarnishing the credibility of anyone who has ever ridden for the team, including me,” said Roche. “Almost every day since the story of the mystery package broke, something new seems to emerge: jiffy bags, missing medical records, stolen laptops, and we all find out about it at the same time from the internet. “Maybe I don’t have all the facts but something just doesn’t add up. During the week, it was reported Chris Froome was one of the riders who refused to sign a statement giving his support of Brailsford and, in fairness, I probably would have done the same. If I’ve learned anything from the past it’s that you can’t put your hand in the fire for anyone.”
Roche was in action at Paris Nice yesterday finishing 16th, 1:41 behind stage winner Simon Yates of Orica-SCOTT. Fellow Irishman Dan Martin finished fifth and remains in the same place overall on general classification. Martin rode a superb race in support of teammate and race leader Julian Alaphilippe who is just 36 seconds clear of Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) with Sergio Henao (Team Sky) jumping up to third 10 seconds further back. Tuesday’s stage winner Sam Bennett finished 23 minutes down and is he almost half an hour down overall.