Bradley Wiggins yesterday achieved Team Sky’s stated aim of a British rider winning the Tour de France within five years as world champion Cavendish won the final stage to Paris for a fourth successive year. Whether Cavendish will be part of a team which will prioritise chasing overall victory in the Grand Tours of France, Italy and Spain – with Wiggins, Chris Froome and others – in future remains to be seen. The 27-year-old from the Isle of Man, who is among the favourites for the Olympic road race on July 28, signed a three-year deal last October, but it appears Brailsford would be willing to allow the Manxman to depart if it is his wish.
Brailsford, who is also British Cycling performance director, said: “It’s quite clear that we will be coming back next year to try to win this race again, hopefully to defend it with Bradley. This team will keep its GC (general classification) ambitions and I am sure that we will sit down and discuss that with Mark and see how he feels about that. He is a prolific British winner and on the one hand we would love to have a prolific British winner on the team.
“We will still be a GC team and if he felt, or if it was felt, that he would like a dedicated team around him, then he is quite within his rights to want to do that. We wouldn’t fall out about it, there wouldn’t be an issue about it, but we are very proud to have him on Team Sky, he is a fantastic champion. I can’t see an issue at all, there’s no problem and we will take the common-sense approach and sort it out like that.”
Cavendish was undisputed team leader in winning 20 stages in four Tours prior to 2012, when Wiggins’ bid for overall success took precedence at Team Sky. As well as winning stages two, 18 and 20 - taking his tally to 23 - Cavendish played a consummate team role as he prepared for his 2012 priority, Saturday’s Olympic road race. After achieving Team Sky’s stated aim two years earlier than scheduled, Brailsford is seeking to build on the success. “If you’re going to become the best cycling team the world’s ever seen, you’ve got to win the biggest race in the world time and time again,” he added. “I am quite driven by that: to see what it takes to be the best professional team this sport has ever seen. The components of that would be success over time.”
Reflecting on his team’s success, Brailsford added: “I am sure at an inopportune moment I will get blind drunk, all the emotion will come out, I’ll have a good old cry, feel bad about it the next day and crack on.”