Sir Dave Brailsford's future at Team Sky was plunged into uncertainly on Monday night, as three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome ignored a team request for the riders to support the team manager on Twitter.
Froome is Team Sky's most high-profile rider and his silence, as well as his failure to defend Brailsford in January, has widely been interpreted as a snub of Brailsford.
Team Sky's manager has come under increasing scrutiny since information on Sir Bradley Wiggins' authorised use of banned drugs to treat a medical condition was released by hackers.
The team was plunged into crisis when UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) began an investigation into whether Team Sky and British Cycling violated anti-doping rules when a suspicious medical package was delivered to Wiggins at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné.
Nicole Sapstead, the chief executive of Ukad, then told a parliamentary select committee that the efforts of her investigations to ascertain what the medial package contained have been met with "resistance".
The crisis turned into something approaching a farce late on Monday when Cycling News revealed a source had alleged that some of the team's riders, who have reportedly grown increasing concerned over Brailsford's involvement in the controversy, had called for internal discussions with Brailsford — only to be told they had to publicly support Brailsford ‘or else the team is done’.
The Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas was among 16 riders who came out in support of Brailsford on social media, although 12 elected to hold their silence.
"It shouldn't even need saying, but we all back Dave 100%" Thomas, who was among the first riders to join the team upon its formation in 2010, tweeted.
"I've known him a long time and I wouldn't want anyone else leading Team Sky," he added.
The British national road race champion in 2015, Peter Kennaugh, agreed with Thomas, adding: "I think all the riders on Team Sky would join me in saying they are completely behind Dave Brailsford."
Others then followed suit, including Luke Rowe, Elia Viviani and Michal Kwiatkowski, who won the Strade Bianche for Team Sky at the weekend.
But not all of Team Sky's riders joined the rush to defend Brailsford, with Chris Froome the most notable man to keep his own counsel.
Froome, who is currently training in South Africa, instead tweeted a picture of himself having dinner and notably decided against retweeting any of the pro-Brailsford comments made by his team-mates. The 31-year-old also failed to come out in support of Brailsford in January.
Brailsford has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing over the medical package delivered to Wiggins in 2011, telling the committee in December that the package contained an over-the-counter decongestant called Fluimucil.
However, ex-Team Sky medic Dr Richard Freeman, who received the package for Wiggins, has said he has no record of his medical treatment at the time because the laptop he stored the records on was stolen in 2014.
Committee chairman Damian Collins MP attacked both Team Sky and British Cycling after the hearing, adding that their reputations were "in tatters".
"How can you say British Cycling is the cleanest and most ethical in the world when there are no records to substantiate what the doctors are giving the cyclists?" he said.Reuse content