Sir Dave Brailsford has revealed that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer before July’s Tour de France, and will find out tomorrow whether a five-hour operation he underwent last month was successful.
Speaking to The Times, the Team Ineos boss said: “There's bound to be fear. It's the great unknown. I think I'm resilient, tough, I can put up with a lot but in hospital one day I was overwhelmed, to be honest.”
The 55-year-old, who earlier this year secured the team’s future by bringing in Ineos as owner and sponsor after broadcaster Sky had said it was ending its 10-year sponsorship, was present at the Tour de France, including seeing Egan Bernal seal his overall victory in Paris.
However, he admitted that he had pushed himself too far, saying: "One day I woke up asleep on my desk, literally crashed out on it," he said. "I'm thinking 'this is just a hassle. I'm too busy'. Luckily I have a brilliant doctor who put his foot down.
"My attitude had been ridiculous, really, looking back. That was the first time I was stopped in my tracks.
"I could easily have got into a hole, gone into myself which is normally what I do. I set myself a game plan. I talk to athletes about choosing your attitude. Now it was up to me.”
He continued: "It's easy to think 'why is it happening to me?' I've worked hard on my health so you can get bitter, angry, frustrated. I had to learn to accept it. Talking about it among the team was a massive help.
"Luckily four or five days in, someone sent me the perfect text: 'This is not a test of personality or motivation or how fast you can go. You need to heal. The only thing that can help that is time'."
Brailsford, who once had ambitions to become a professional cyclist himself, still uses a bike to help keep in shape and regularly posts training and nutrition tips as well as details of his rides to Strava – including this year, the Mortirolo, which he conquered while at the Giro d’Italia with the team.
More recent posts have included walks and, last week, a picture of him on an exercise bike, with the lack of rides now explained by his recovery from his operation.
According to Prostate Cancer UK, “there are more than 200,000 men living with and beyond the disease” across the country, and you can find out more information about the condition and the charity’s work on its website.
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.