Tour de France 2014: Dave Brailsford wants a Frenchman to lead Team Sky to Tour de France glory one day
'It would be massive for the tour,' Brailsford revealed
Not content with having achieved his initial aim of two British Tour winners in five years twice over, the ever-restless Sky supremo has trained his sights over the Channel and identified a number of exciting Gallic prospects to head up the next stage of British cycling’s continental adventure.
“I would like to win (the Tour de France) with a Frenchman,” said Brailsford in an interview with the French sports newspaper L’Équipe published today. “I think we must achieve this: it would be massive for the Tour, for France, for the French people and for the sport in general to produce a French winner.”
Brailsford’s comments will come as a surprise given Team Sky’s initial aim back in 2010 of an all-British team. However, the increasingly multinational makeup of the squad has become especially apparent in 2014: only two of this year’s Tour de France squad- Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas- are British.
When asked which Frenchmen he would be targeting, Brailsford reeled off a list of the country’s most exciting young stars.
“There’s [Romain] Bardet, [Warren] Barguil and [Thibaut] Pinot- and I think that[Arnaud] Démare is a very good rider too,” he said. “This is a new generation of French riders that believes in itself.”
France has not produced a Tour winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985. Richard Virenque finished a distant second behind Jan Ullrich in 1997- though that achievement was discoloured by subsequent associations with doping.
Perhaps the Sky principal has even grown a little bored of his British success. “We have won the Tour with a Briton- when are we going to see the same with a Frenchman,” he wondered.
What the French teams of AG2R, Europcar and Francaise des Jeux make of Brailsford’s latest ambition remains to be seen. What is not in doubt is that this French race needs a French winner to maintain its relevance amongst the home fans- and few figures are as good at realising seemingly impossible plans as Brailsford.
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