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
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

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn