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Former world and Olympic champion says national team needs full-time boss

Former world and Olympic champion Chris Boardman says that Sir Dave Brailsford needs to make his mind up over whether to remain involved with the Great Britain team or to devote himself exclusively to Team Sky.

Boardman’s comments follow a UCI Track World Championships in Colombia in which the country won just two gold medals – the lowest return since 2006 – and five medals in total. No male rider secured a medal, the first time that has happened since 1998.

Since Team Sky made its debut in 2010, Brailsford has been combined his role as team principal at the UCI World Tour outfit with that of performance director at British Cycling, a position he has held since 2003.

Last month, he said that following the track worlds, which he did not attend, he would reconsider his role at British Cycling, widely interpreted as meaning that he would reduce his focus on the national team.

Brailsford, who oversaw Great Britain’s dominance of the Olympic track events at Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012, said that Team Sky’s stature after back-to-back successes in the Tour de France was “like having an Olympic Games every year.”

Speaking of his role with Great Britain, he said: "The thing that I am concerned about is to make sure that the Great Britain cycling team is in the best possible shape going into Rio.

"If I was occupying a certain space, but for whatever reason I didn't feel like I was optimising what I could do, then I would change my role.

"It is nothing drastic. It is just a question of continually managing and evolving the situation,” added Brailsford, who said it was easier to step away from some of his duties at British Cycling due to the strength in depth in the coaching side there.

But Boardman, head of research and development at British Cycling up until the 2012 Olympics and now its policy advisor, says that the national team needs a chief who is fully devoted to the role.

"I'm not sure about an overhaul, but it needs a boss,” he told Press Association sport, quoted on Orange.co.uk.

“I believe Dave's making a decision on what he's going to do, but it needs a full-time boss.

"Dave would clearly be the best full-time boss, but if he's not going to do that, it might be better if somebody else comes in and takes the reins.

"He's such a character, if he's still there it's difficult for people to go in and take command, but it needs somebody like him.

"Shane [Sutton] is great, a good second in command, but perhaps not the person to be the big boss,” he continued.

"British Cycling's in a period a period of change now. Still got some fantastic ingredients, some great athletes, got some great people working for them.

"The potential is all still there. It just might need somebody to pull it all together."

While Great Britain’s performance in Cali, which Boardman commentated on for the BBC, was disappointing, the 1992 Olympic individual pursuit champion said that needn’t be a major cause for concern with the Rio Games still two years away.

"If you look at the curve in the last eight years there's always a two-year lull in the middle,” he explained.

"When you win things, you get lots of distractions, the hunger goes a little bit, you get a good kicking, that gives you back your incentive - the fear of loss.

"It's part of a cycle and I don't think there's any reason to be massively concerned for Rio yet.

"It's not like the rest of the world has gone massively faster, it's the British team that's slowed down, so you know the potential is there.

"They've lost a couple of key names in Vicky [Pendleton] and Chris [Hoy]. I think that's being felt,” he added.

"They're not a million miles away, but they're behind the curve in every male event. They're just missing an edge.

"If you were concerned about anything, it's the fact they're finding it difficult to pinpoint and haven't seen it coming into the event," Boardman concluded.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

17 comments

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Gkam84 [9080 posts] 2 years ago
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Chris Boardman needs to shut up for a while, take a look at his decision to be involved with top gear and then decide if he wants to be a voice for all cyclists, if he does. He needs to wise up and do things to help, not hinder us.

Rather than telling one of the best coaches to decide on things that have nothing to do with him. Just to get headlines and his name out there again.

Do something useful or go away, become a commentary or whatever washed up pro cyclists do these days.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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I really don't think Boardman is in a position to seriously call Brailsford to task

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Quince [382 posts] 2 years ago
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The fact that Boardman (undoubtably) had most of his lines cut from the final edit of popular motoring show is hardly cause to throw a hissy fit about the man. I mean, what else would you have had him do in his 5 seconds of screen time? Laugh hysterically at the videos and give Jeremy Clarkson a high-5?

I seems rather pathetic to not give his thoughts on an organisation he has been heavily involved with for 9 years in an interview, because Mr. Gkam48 has told him to 'go away'.

His comments come off the back of Brailsford's own recently voiced concerns about balancing the most successful cycling team in the world and... the other most successful cycling team in the world. Just tackling one of them has got to be hard enough.

As for his overall credibility, he's the only person I can think of to have made repeated appearances in the public space, and voiced clear, rational facts about cycling in a non-confrontational manner.

As one of the most prominent forces for furthering British cycling I know of, I can't help viewing your comments as either ignorant or just disrespectful. Seemingly because he was cut from a motoring show, and echoed comments Brailsford had practically already made.

If anyone's got 'wising up' to do, it isn't Boardman.

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levermonkey [658 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't have any problem with Sir David Brailsford's dual role. There needs to be a single guiding hand at the top of British cycling and he is doing a great job. The problem with British sport in the past has been that it tries to exist in a bubble. By having a head who is involved with a top team you get cross fertilisation of ideas. This is to the benefit of both.

Don't forget that British track cycling is in transition. A lot of the old guard have retired and the new guard still need to be brought through carefully and nurtured.

Does he have too much on his plate?

No! The art of leadership is delegation.

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sean1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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Interestingly Chris Hoy was in Cali in a support/consultant type role for the team.

Maybe this is Brailsford trying out Hoy for a role as track team manager?

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gareth2510 [167 posts] 2 years ago
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I think he has a point. Spread yourself to thinly things can be fine for so long, but after a while cracks can appear.

Maybe this was evident on the track recently?

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Chris James [374 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

Chris Boardman needs to shut up for a while, .....

Rather than telling one of the best coaches to decide on things that have nothing to do with him. Just to get headlines and his name out there again.

Yeah, it's annoying when uninformed people can't stop using the media to slag off people much more knowledgeable than themselves .......

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Ignore Chris Boardman at your peril.
When Brailsford set about his Grande Projet, cycling was starting from a quite low baseline.
Now the bar is so high anything but domination is seen as failure.
Brailsford can of course take a lot of credit but British Cycling has become such a large beast since he started he simply cant control it all himself.
The dual role may have been ok two or three years ago but it is unacceptable to expect success on the track and the road with no clear leader in each discipline.

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ColT [280 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

Chris Boardman needs to shut up for a while, take a look at his decision to be involved with top gear and then decide if he wants to be a voice for all cyclists, if he does. He needs to wise up and do things to help, not hinder us.

No he doesn't.

He's shrewder than most (on here) and talks a great deal of sense.

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notfastenough [3665 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

Chris Boardman needs to shut up for a while, take a look at his decision to be involved with top gear and then decide if he wants to be a voice for all cyclists, if he does. He needs to wise up and do things to help, not hinder us.

Rather than telling one of the best coaches to decide on things that have nothing to do with him. Just to get headlines and his name out there again.

Do something useful or go away, become a commentary or whatever washed up pro cyclists do these days.

Boardman knew TG was a risky strategy, he doesn't get control of the edit.

As for this, he was head of RnD there for years, if he gives an interview, do you not think any interviewer with half a brain would be asking him about this very subject? Wouldn't you? I would.

The fella is the best representative for cyclists, period.

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dullard [140 posts] 2 years ago
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The headline is completely overblowing the story. Brailsford has said he's looking at his role with BC and with Sky in order to do the best for each, and Boardman is agreeing that that's exactly what he should be doing. No controversy, no argument.

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Simon_MacMichael [2448 posts] 2 years ago
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dullard wrote:

The headline is completely overblowing the story. Brailsford has said he's looking at his role with BC and with Sky in order to do the best for each, and Boardman is agreeing that that's exactly what he should be doing. No controversy, no argument.

No it's not. Brailsford said he's reconsider the respective roles, and the way he was talking, the most likely interpretation is that he will devote more time to Sky and step back a bit at BC, delegating to others on the coaching side.

Boardman, on the other hand, says GB needs a full-time boss.

Headline reflects that, and we're not saying it's a controversy/argument - it's simply someone who's respected, and who has worked closely with DB for a number of years, putting his own point of view across.

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Cyclist [295 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

Chris Boardman needs to shut up for a while, take a look at his decision to be involved with top gear and then decide if he wants to be a voice for all cyclists, if he does. He needs to wise up and do things to help, not hinder us.

Rather than telling one of the best coaches to decide on things that have nothing to do with him. Just to get headlines and his name out there again.

Do something useful or go away, become a commentary or whatever washed up pro cyclists do these days.

I have to say that is one of the most ignorant posts I have read on here!

Brailsford does need to make up his mind, or eventually both will decline. As is happening on the track. And if it wasn't for Boardman and the other back room boys of TSSC we wouldn't even know who Brailsford Hoy Pendelton were.

I don't think the worlds leading expert on going faster on a bike-Olympic GOLD medalist-world champion-leading bike seller - TdF stage winner, yellow jersey wearing pro-cyclist, really needs to get his name out there AGAIN!

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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May we hear Graeme Obree's opinion?

It's probably got something to do with sardines, but I would still like to see him in the set up.

Brailsford may be spread thinly, but do we have an alternative should he plump to stay with Sky, who let's face it, being a sponsor, do have an input into Team GB.

Out of interest, for the Commonwealth Games, who runs Team England? I know how Scottish cycling works, but England have quite a large team of big names to manage.

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davec_uk [1 post] 2 years ago
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This sounds a little like board man pitching for the Job to me.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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gareth2510 wrote:

Maybe this was evident on the track recently?

Definitely, I mean fancy coming home with *only* 6 medals from a world championships?

As a sight aside for the rest of the thread:

No Cavendish or Wiggins (yes, I do know they are concentrating on road and yes I know they weren't available for selection), a retired Chris Hoy and a whole heap of young, fresh blood lacking in experience. It's going to have a huge, huge impact, you simply can not expect them to be taking every gold in sight.

Did they embarrass themselves or British cycling in general when racing over there? Far from it. Shane Sutton thinks they performed below his expectations and I respect that view, he's putting rockets under arses. He's asking questions to make the team ask questions of themselves and making it clear that they need to be committed and at the top of their games.

The worlds, for me, had a fuck ton of positives and I think that there is a really good future ahead but a lot of other countries are mimicking the GB set up and finding their own marginal gains which is putting the squeeze on and making sure that GB know that they have no divine right to win anything at all.

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gareth2510 [167 posts] 2 years ago
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farrell wrote:
gareth2510 wrote:

Maybe this was evident on the track recently?

Definitely, I mean fancy coming home with *only* 6 medals from a world championships?

As a sight aside for the rest of the thread:

No Cavendish or Wiggins (yes, I do know they are concentrating on road and yes I know they weren't available for selection), a retired Chris Hoy and a whole heap of young, fresh blood lacking in experience. It's going to have a huge, huge impact, you simply can not expect them to be taking every gold in sight.

Did they embarrass themselves or British cycling in general when racing over there? Far from it. Shane Sutton thinks they performed below his expectations and I respect that view, he's putting rockets under arses. He's asking questions to make the team ask questions of themselves and making it clear that they need to be committed and at the top of their games.

The worlds, for me, had a fuck ton of positives and I think that there is a really good future ahead but a lot of other countries are mimicking the GB set up and finding their own marginal gains which is putting the squeeze on and making sure that GB know that they have no divine right to win anything at all.

I dont think I mentioned that I expected GB to win everything in sight. 6 medals is brilliant, but for what ever reason they were not as successful as previous Worlds and maybe this is because of the the man with the final say over British cycling spreading himself too thinly. Only my opinion though