Sir Bradley Wiggins says that Ineos Grenadiers team principal Sir Dave Brailsford – his former boss at British Cycling and Team Sky – would get the sack if he were he a football manager, given the UCI WorldTour outfit’s performance at this year’s Tour de France.
Brailsford - who in the past has swapped management tips with former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini - elected to leave four-time champion Chris Froome and 2018 yellow jersey winner Geraint Thomas out of the line-up for this year’s Tour de France, with the pair instead heading respectively to the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d’Italia.
Instead, team leadership in the French Grand Tour, now in its final week, went to defending champion Egan Bernal – but his hopes of retaining his title were dashed yesterday on the climb of the Grand Colombier.
Team Sky – and latterly Team Ineos – have dominated the yellow jersey over the past decade, with Wiggins’ own victory in 2012 followed up by four in five years by Chris Froome, followed by the win by Thomas in 2018 and Bernal’s triumph last year.
Only Vincenzo Nibali, riding for Astana, was able to break that run, winning in 2014, the year when Froome crashed out injured on the fifth stage of the race.
It's hard to stay on top every year and this year they've just not got it right,” said Wiggins on his Bradley Wiggins Show on Eurosport.
“I don't know what's happened there. For a team that's performance orientated and such planning that goes into their seasons, it's just not worked for them for one reason or another. Had it been football, Dave would be out.”
In a switch of tactics today at the Tour de France, Ineos Grenadiers got three riders in the break, with Richard Carapaz finishing second and Pavel Sivakov fourth.
In footballing terms, it’s something Arsenal fans may be familiar with – switching from a tilt at the Premier League title, to concentrating on the FA Cup, though without the success to date enjoyed in that competition by the North London outfit in recent years.
Wiggins is confident, however, that Brailsford will return to produce teams that can once again dominate cycling’s biggest stage race.
“Dave has been here before and they'll restructure and re-plan and come back next year with a full line-up,” he insisted. “With the world going back to normal, that will help.”
He contrasted the selection problems that Ineos Grenadiers had encountered with concerns over Froome’s recovery from injury and Thomas’s race fitness with the options open to Jumbo-Visma.
The Dutch team has dominated the front of the overall contenders’ group in the mountains in much the same way as Team Sky used to in its heyday, with Wiggins noting that its line-up “was selected last December and it was Primoz Roglic as leader as the winner of the Vuelta.
“I think that's maybe the tightrope Ineos walk sometimes with having so many big leaders,” he added. “There's extra competition within that team for who will take the leadership mantle.”
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.