Orla Chennaoui looks back at Sir David Brailsford's 11-year reign

Last Updated: 30/04/14 1:03pm

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Sir David Brailsford: 11 years of extraordinary success

Sir David Brailsford: 11 years of extraordinary success

Sky Bet

Sir David Brailsford stepped down as performance director of British Cycling on Friday. Sky Sports News' cycling correspondent Orla Chennaoui looks back at his 11-year reign.

Many have asked me just how significant Sir Dave Brailsford's departure from British Cycling really is, and it's a very good question.

After all, the man himself has always described his role as being more managerial than hands-on coaching.

His job is to find the people with the expertise in their field, and allow them to get on with it. At British Cycling he was, at turns, the proverbial plate-spinner, the orchestra conductor, the master puppeteer.

He was simply the man running the show, and it was a show in which all the actors knew their lines and could deliver them with their eyes closed. And crucially, we're led to believe, without their director.

However, such humility is typical of a man who expressed to me surprise that news of his resignation should have garnered so much media attention. While that may seem disingenuous from a man as shrewd and intelligent as Brailsford, it's that reluctance to believe his own hype that makes him such a refreshing figure.

His successes are obvious and oft-cited, but it's Sir David's charisma and intelligent insight, offered freely to journalists and fans alike, which make him a rarity in elite sport.

Of course interaction with the public is hardly what makes a sports manager good at their job, but coupled with an attention to detail and a level of ambition that are at times mind-boggling to the mere mortal, and it's not difficult to see just why he's been so successful.


I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen Dave Brailsford unwind, and even then, half a hand would be too much.

When he and Team Sky confounded the sceptics by winning the Tour de France for the first time with Sir Bradley Wiggins, the mood at the champagne reception at the Paris Ritz that night was buoyant but contained. The Olympic Games were only a week away so it was a same-day evening flight back to London for all involved in Team GB, and no time to celebrate. It was the greatest victory of his career at the time, but there was still work to be done.

Therein lies the large reason of course for why doubling up on two such important jobs was no longer tenable.

As for what he leaves behind at British Cycling, it is indeed the framework of a very well-oiled machine. Shane Sutton, the no-nonsense, straight talking Aussie is a veteran of the Manchester and Newport velodromes, and has been instrumental in the federation's success.

One other vital cog missing though, is the cerebral one of Professor Steve Peters. The psychiatrist's role in developing a winning mentality in British Cycling cannot possibly be underestimated. He took nerves and transformed them into adrenaline, fears became fuel to ambition.

The biggest problem facing the federation moving forward will be the inevitable comparisons with the past.

They have the talent, they have the coaching, they have the framework and financial support. They also however, have exceptional expectations to maintain, and considerable shoes to fill...

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