Tour de France: Sir Dave Brailsford plays down desire to win race with a French rider
By Matt Westby in London. Last Updated: 08/07/14 8:27am
Sir Dave Brailsford insists helping Chris Froome win future Tours de France is his sole focus
Sir Dave Brailsford insists he remains focused on helping Chris Froome win future Tours de France, despite being quoted as saying he would like to win the race with a French rider.
France hasn’t celebrated a victory at the Tour since Bernard Hinaut in 1985, but the country’s future is beginning to look bright thanks a new wave of promising young riders such as Warren Barguil, Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot.
Team Sky principal Brailsford told the daily sports newspaper L’Equipe on Sunday that a Frenchman winning the race “needs to happen” and that he “would like to win with a French rider”.
However, speaking after Monday’s third stage of the Tour in London, he clarified his comments and said Froome’s future with Team Sky was not at risk.
He added: "This is the biggest cycling event every year and it would be great for them if a French guy won it.
"[But] my focus is on doing everything I can to support Team Sky riders to be on the podium and to help Chris to win this race, to inspire people in this country to get involved and to keep on cycling. I have worked for 15 years to try to put British cycling on the map and I hope to continue to do that.
"The comment was more about a national event - if it's won by the same nation's rider, what a fantastic thing that can be. We have seen it with Andy Murray. It would be an exciting thing to see."
"Bradley is a fantastic champion and we would like him to continue with Team Sky."
Sir Dave Brailsford
Team Sky are reported to be interested in signing Barguil, who is a 22-year-old climbing expert who won two stages of last year’s Vuelta a Espana in impressive style.
Such a move could threaten ever-improving Welsh rider Geraint Thomas’s chances of leading the team at future stage races, but Brailsford insisted performances and not passports would determine team selection.
He added: "Ultimately, we are British, but we are performance-based."
Another rider who will have been concerned by Brailsford’s comments is Sir Bradley Wiggins, who was left out of Team Sky’s Tour de France team and is out of contract at the end of the season.
Wiggins is rumoured to be interesting rival teams, including Orica-GreenEdge, but Brailsford was adamant the 2012 Tour winner still has a future at Team Sky.
He said: "Bradley is a fantastic champion and we would like him to continue with Team Sky. We will continue to discuss that with him and see if we can find a way to support him through to Rio [2016 Olympics]."