Cycling: Staff claims Team Sky an Olympic hindrance

Olympic cycling champion Jamie Staff believes British hopes of more medals in London are being damaged by Team Sky.

Staff, winner of the team sprint with Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny in Beijing, was part of the coaching staff at the nat-ional cycling centre in Manchester until he was recruited by USA Cycling earlier this year. And, in an interview with American website, he has revealed his fears that the Team Sky project - a joint venture between British Cycling and the satellite broadcaster - is affecting Olympic prospects.

Dave Brailsford, performance director at British Cycling and the man who guided to the team to eight golds at the 2008 Olympics, has been splitting his time with the professional road team which was formed with the intention of winning the Tour de France.

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Staff said: "I would like for them to do well in all events, but with Dave Brailsford's attention turned to the road, I think it's having an effect on the track team. You need a leader. If your leader goes off and leads something else, you get consequences. At the end of the day it comes down to the riders obviously, but having someone to lead the army is the key.

"It gives the rider the belief they have the backing. If you remove that and the riders feel like they are on their own, then cracks can appear. I see some cracks appearing."

The partnership between British Cycling and Team Sky is the subject of an independent review by Deloitte. Team Sky made their Tour de France debut this year, with two-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins as the team leader. Wiggins finished 24th with Sweden's Thomas Lovkvist as the highest-placed rider on the team.

Staff's comments were strongly disputed by British Cycling, who cited the progress made by British cyclists under the wing of Team Sky.

Brailsford has long advocated the need for British cyclists to compete for a professional team which is sympathetic to their Olympic ambitions.

A British Cycling spokesman said: "The British Cycling partnership with Sky has been in place since just before the Beijing Oly-mpics and to suggest it is having a detrimental effect on our track team is simply not true.

"The fact that young, talented British riders such as Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift and Pete Kennaugh are able to benefit from the partnership no doubt boosts our road presence, as highlighted by Geraint's white jersey success at this year's Tour de France.

"It also means the British track riders in Team Sky can benefit from having their road-race programme fully tailored to optimise their Olympic ambitions, something which might not be the case if Team Sky was not in place.Success in London in 2012 is at the forefront of everyone's thoughts, most notably Dave's, and nothing will ever distract us from that."

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• South Korea have accused Chinese and Japanese officials of bias after Hong Kong's Wong Kam Po was awarded the gold medal in a controversial men's road race at the Asian Games. The original winner, Park Sung-baek of South Korea, was relegated to 19th for interference in the closing metres of the 180km race. Park was initially placed first in a photo finish over Wong, both in 4hr 14min 54sec, but appeared to swerve wide to his left in the final stages, and Wong signalled with his hand in the air to claim interference.