Sir Dave Brailsford happy with his Sky Team riders' performance levels: 'Chris Froome is still flying – the only problem's been the baboons'

 

alcudia, spain

Sir Dave Brailsford believes that Sky's Chris Froome has avoided a potential dip in performance levels following his outstanding victory in the Tour de France last year and claims that only the odd incident with marauding baboons is hindering his off-season training.

"You can't get away from the fact that if you win a major sporting event, things happen which are totally detrimental for you to try and win again," Brailsford said.

"I've seen it with a lot of Olympic gold medallists, the next couple of seasons there's a lull, it's a human phenomenon, and it's very easy to explain. But I think he's managed it all very well, he's had his time to do his bits and bobs, as it were, and he's now in South Africa training." Indeed, claimed Brailsford, Froome's degree of commitment to winning the Tour this year is "as strong as it was in 2013". The only problem, he added, "has been getting robbed by baboons".

"There are all these signs in the place where they're staying [in South Africa] saying, 'Don't leave your door open, baboons can come in and nick your food.' And they left their door open..."

Sky's team principal said that Froome, despite having suffered from a bad case of sunburn after one ride, had been able to train in South Africa with "no distractions, really knuckling down". But he will almost certainly not be racing as hard as he was in the early part of 2013 when he captured victories in high-level stage races like the Tour of Oman. With Froome's status as team leader clearly established, the Briton can afford to ease back a little and, ideally, come to his big summer challenges like the Tour de France more rested.

"The idea of going into Oman and hitting it hard, I don't think the necessity is the same this year," Brailsford said. "Last year one of the challenges for him was to get more experience as a leader, and we were taking every opportunity to try and refine that."

Chris Froome will not start the season in top gear as he had to last year to establish himself as a leader (Getty) Chris Froome will not start the season in top gear as he had to last year to establish himself as a leader (Getty)
Brailsford admits that as one of the sport's world leaders, Sky is facing an unrelenting threat from other teams, or as he puts it: "The band of competitive advantage [Sky has] is narrowing. Other teams are doing their work", and Sky have to continue to strive to stay ahead of the game.

One element missing last year from Sky's collective 2012 recipe for success – and that Brailsford ensured was in place this winter – was "an occasion to get everybody together to really think as staff and riders about what's worked, and what could stop us in the future."

Rather than a quick hour added on to the end of a training camp, say, Sky's entire team spent three full days brainstorming and discussing their racing season in a specially hired theatre in Majorca. "Last year we missed that with the whole [Lance] Armstrong thing" – the American's doping confession and the ensuing fallout – but this time round, Brailsford said, "it was really good feedback."

British Cycling and Sky have become famous for lateral thinking and Brailsford has spent some of the winter in the United States, looking at other sports to see what could be applicable to cycling.

"I hadn't done that for a few years but I went to America to see some basketball guys, some ice hockey guys. There's no one reference point out there, so it's an opportunity to collate, a horizon scan."

Other new projects are to develop further Sky's base in Nice, where they have a human performance centre and a team house. "We have 14 riders living down there," Brailsford pointed out, with Froome based in nearby Monaco. Then, after the 2014 season, Sky have a large number of riders – 11 – out of contract, including Sir Bradley Wiggins. "We need to start thinking about building the team for the next two or three years and that's quite a fun challenge, too."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before