Sir Dave Brailsford has apologised to a reporter for a four-letter tirade on Monday’s second rest day at the Tour de France in which he accused the journalist of “writing shit about me” and told him to “stick it up your arse.”
The Team Sky principal made his comments as riders including race leader Chris Froome were being interviewed by broadcast media before setting off for a ride from the team hotel in Le Puy en Velay.
Digital and print journalists also descended on the hotel, with Brailsford telling one, Barry Ryan of Cycling News, that he was not welcome there, apparently due to an article published shortly before the race began that was critical of the UCI ProTeam’s boss.
“You're not invited,” Brailsford told Ryan. “We have invited the people we want to speak to. You've been writing shit about me."
When Ryan asked Brailsford to explain why he was unhappy, he was told: "I'm not getting into that. It was opinion, you write shit.
“We make ourselves available, we answer all the questions and you write this shit.”
Ryan put it to Brailsford that his attitude was similar to that of Johan Bruyneel at the 2009 Tour de France, when the Belgian was managing the Astana team that included the winner of that year’s race, Alberto Contador as well as Lance Armstrong, making his return to the race after a three-year absence.
Brailsford said to him: “Are you accusing me of running a doping programme as well?”
Ryan’s replied: “Well, UK Anti-Doping are investigating that ...”
That prompted Brailsford to say, as he walked away: “You can stick it up your arse.”
BBC Sport reports that Brailsford has now apologised to Ryan.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I can be a bit stubborn at times.
“We're in battle mode, but I let myself down."
"It wasn't very clever and I wouldn't want my daughter doing that.
"I went and apologised to the person involved," he added.
Unusually for a team with a rider holding the yellow jersey, Team Sky has restricted access to journalists on both rest days at this year’s race – something the Guardian’s William Fotheringham says is almost unprecedented.
For a team that was derided at their launch ahead of the 2010 season to win the Tour de France with a British rider within five years, Team Sky managed that twice within that period, with Sir Bradley Wiggins winning in 2012 and Chris Froome taking the title the following year.
Froome missed out in 2014, abandoning in the opening week, but this afternoon, barring mishap on the final processional stage into Paris, will be crowned champion for the fourth time in his career and the third time in succession.
Over the past year, however, the revelation that Wiggins obtained a therapeutic use exemption for a powerful corticosteroid to combat allergies ahead of the 2011 and 2012 editions has cast a shadow over his victory, as has the controversy over the contents of a Jiffy Bag containing medicine for him delivered to Team Sky at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné.
Brailsford was quizzed on those issues last December by a House of Commons Select Committee whose chair, Damien Collins, was unimpressed with his responses, and the issues are also the subject of an ongoing investigation by UK Anti-Doping.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.