Sir Dave Brailsford beats rugby stars and footballers to top the Welsh Sport Power list
Praised for methodical approach and forensic attention to detail
He might not be the obvious choice in a country as rugby-obsessed as Wales, but Sir Dave Brailsford has topped the Welsh Sport Power list for the first time.
Beating others including footballer Gareth Bale and Warren Gatland (Wales and Lions coach), who all appeared in the top 50, Brailsford's 'astonishing achievements over a short period of time' were praised by the judges.
He was also noted for his 'forensic attention to detail' and 'methodical approach' and the judges questioned: 'Can any of his peers in other disciplines make a similar claim?'
Read the judgment in full below:
The idea that a cycling coach might trump the coach of the Welsh rugby team to top a Wales Sport Power list would have seemed entirely ridiculous a while back.
But the fact we today name Sir Dave Brailsford as No. 1 in our rundown of the most influential people in Welsh sport is a testament to the astonishing achievements he has accomplished over a short space of time.
In the space of barely a decade, the Welsh-speaking coach has turned Britain from cycling also-rans into the undisputed Olympic kings.
Gold medals have flowed with stunning regularity – 18 at the Olympics over the course of three Games, with eight at London 2012 alone.
Brailsford has turned the likes of Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Mark Cavendish and Laura Trott into household names through his forensic attention to detail across Britain’s entire Olympic programme.
And that’s without mentioning the pro-cycling behemoth of Team Sky – a squad created in Brailsford’s own image that has become the world’s undisputed No.1 team within just three years of its creation.
When Sky launched in 2010, Brailsford’s stated aim of winning the Tour de France with a clean British rider in the space of five years was widely sneered at within the sport.
Britain had next to no pedigree in international road racing, so the concept of producing a winner of the world’s most prestigious and challenging event seemed especially.
But equipped with a philosophy that treasured empirical evidence over accepted convention, and a focus on making marginal gains in every possible facet, Brailsford set about assembling the team that would deliver his goal.
Fast forward to the present, and Sir Bradley Wiggins has already achieved the team’s ambition, two years ahead of time, in his march to becoming one of the most recognisable sportsmen in the country.
In Chris Froome, Team Sky may very well have the winner of this year’s Tour, while Welsh rider Geraint Thomas has become one of the world’s best known riders – arguably more famous in Europe’s cycling hotbeds than in his native country.
Brailsford, through his methodical approach, has almost single-handedly revolutionised a sport that was at its nadir after years of doping scandals. He is being coveted by other sports looking to tap into his recipe for success.
Can any of his peers in other disciplines make a similar claim?
Virtually the entire sport of cycling looks to the methods pioneered by Brailsford to inform its approach.
But while professional cycling remains a niche – if developing – spectator and television sport in Wales, the high-profile success of British athletes has sparked an almost unprecedented boom in participation levels.
Dave Brailsford has a great deal to do with the hordes of cyclists that can be found on roads up and down Wales.
So does that make him more powerful than, say, Warren Gatland?
In our view, yes. He is the type of sporting pioneer who comes around barely once a generation.