British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford expanded on plans for a national road team at a Sports Journalists Association lunch in London today.
Brailsford?s vision to have a British team capable of competing in the Tour de France in 2010 still has a way to go, but the success of the track squad has opened doors to potential sponsors and produced positive reactions to the plan ? even from the assembled hacks of Fleet Street.
Cycling Weekly spoke to Brailsford after the lunch to find out how the prospective team was progressing.
CW: How long has the idea been around to form a ProNat team? Does it go back to Peter Keen?s days?
DB: I think so. It?s the vision that he had and we have taken things forward. There was so much crap written about us being obsessed with the track, and we used to say ?we?ll see, give us time?. And then people were saying you can?t be a track rider and a road rider. That?s been proved wrong: Mark Cavendish was training on the track yesterday having just won a stage at the Elektrotoer. Nobody can tell me that you can?t combine the two.
CW: Are you starting from ground zero regarding putting a team together?
DB: No. A lot of the guys that we use are in place. I am not going to go out and hire a load of new people. We have got all the physios, nutritionists, scientists ? it?s all there in-house. Maybe a couple more on-the-road directeur sportifs, who have got a bit more experience, but on the whole I am very comfortable that we have got the capacity to build this team.
CW: Presumably you have had to sound out the riders ? they are not necessarily going to come and ride for you just because it is a British team.
DB: That?s absolutely right. I think they are all keen for it but I have got to be careful because it puts the rider in a difficult position with their current team ? it is seen as ?tapping up?. But if they don?t want to do it, then we won?t do it.
CW: Britain has won World Championships on the track, BMX and downhill over the last few weeks. Can we produce a Tour winner too?
DB: Why not? That track experience has stood us in good stead: to be brave enough to raise the bar as high as it can possibly go. To say ?What would it take to go and achieve that goal?? It?s not impossible, so let?s do the analysis of what it would really take for a British rider to win the Tour.
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