Delhi withdrawals entirely down to individuals, no team instructions

Dave Brailsford, team principal of Team Sky has reiterated to road.cc that there is no conflict between his management role for the British pro outfit and the interests of the home nations who had selected Team Sky riders to compete at the Commonwealth Games.

He spoke to us on the back of suggestions that the Isle of Man's Peter Kennaugh had effectively been  been withdrawn from the Games by his Team Sky superiors - a suggestion already strenuously denied in a Team Sky press release that quotes Brailsford as saying: “We at Team Sky can make recommendations to the athletes but the ultimate decision lies with them…there is no instruction from Team Sky on this issue.”

He did, however, concede that there has been a “domino effect” among the Team Sky riders selected for the Games, which has seen six members of the squad, Peter Kennaugh (Isle of Man) Geraint Thomas (Wales) Greg Henderson (New Zealand) Russell Downing, Ian Stannard and Ben Swift (England) all decide to opt out of the competition in quick succession. Brailsford cites the decisions of Team Sky Australians Mathew Hayman and Chris Sutton to attend the Games as evidence that the team has not given instructions to its riders about their participation in the Delhi event.

He said it was only natural that athletes he has worked with and got to know over many years would consult him on an unofficial basis in his day-to-day dealings with them.

“If I’m walking down a corridor with Geraint Thomas and he asks me ‘What do you think about this dengue fever business, Dave?’ then of course I’m going to give him the facts as they are written down, not my opinion, the facts.”

“I’m here [in Australia for the road world championships] with some of the younger British guys and it’s a hot topic for discussion.

“It’s like anything in life, some are more cautious than others and a lot of pressure has come from their families who are saying ‘we just don’t want you to go.’”

As for the decisions by Team Sky riders not to go to Delhi he said: “It was like a domino effect and once one rider said ‘Right I’m not going,’ it kind of opened the flood gates and that reflects people's attitudes in general. Some are more worried and simply don’t want to take the risk.”

“Most of these athletes are strong-minded, strong-willed individuals and they don’t take these decisions lightly. They really like the Commonwealth Games, it’s their only chance to compete for their home nations and it’s quite a big deal to withdraw from them.”

As for Mark Cavendish’s position he said: “Mark told me he is very much in favour of going, that’s the latest but they’re monitoring the situation every day.”

The Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games take place from October 3 - 14 and will feature 14 track cycling events, (eight for men and six for women) and two road events, (road race and time trial) each for men and women.

The track events will be held from October 5 - 8  while the men's 167km and women's 100km road race will take place on October 10 with the men's 40km and women's 29km individual time trial being held on October 13.