Dave Brailsford has revealed the level of planning that went into Chris Froome‘s incredible solo break 80km to take the pink jersey on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia, with even the team boss himself out on the side of the road to hand Froome food and drink.
Froome produced what was one of the greatest rides in Grand Tour history as he attacked midway through the stage on the Colle delle Finestere, riding solo for 80km to overturn a 2-54 gap to Tom Dumoulin at the start of the day and move into the race lead.
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However as Brailsford revealed after the stage, this sort of ride requires a serious amount of planning from the team and the involvement of numerous team staff at the side of the road to make it a success.
“We spent all day yesterday dissecting the stage and the plan was always for him to come good in this little block and the Finestere was always going to be the decisive climb,” Brailsford told Eurosport after the stage.
“We thought that it might be a little bit too far out but you had the 27 hairpins at the bottom and we thought that was where we were going to put things on the line and split things up and make things really hard.
“If someone’s not quite on a good day then they’re going to pay for it there. It gave us a morale boost when Simon was unfortunately dropped and stage two was to get rid of Tom. We decided that on the gravel roads that that was where we were going to do that.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia stage 19 highlights
Once Team Sky had decided where Froome would attack, they had to consider how the 33-year-old would be fuelled throughout the epic ride, and ended up stationing almost all of the team staff – including mechanics, the team’s press officer, and Brailsford himself – at the side of the road to make sure that Froome was given food and drink exactly when he needed it during his gargantuan effort.
This day is a lot about the staff and the fuelling, making sure that you can fuel a ride like this all the way to the end – that is fundamental,” Brailsford continued.
“So every member of staff, myself included, was out on the side of the road to put in place a fuelling strategy for him to make sure that he wouldn’t miss a beat. That was the game changer.
“We tried to segment it up. You know how much someone is going to burn and you know how much they’re going to need to put back in, then you know where you need to eat and you can figure it out. But then you’ve got to make that happen and put it into practice.
“Knowledge isn’t the thing, it’s the practical stuff of making things happen, and thankfully the staff got out today and made it happen. They did a fantastic job, every single one of them and he delivered.”
Froome now holds a 40 second lead over Tom Dumoulin at the top of the general classification with one mountain stage to go to Cervinia – a day that features three first-category ascents in the second half of the day.
With only a flat stage in Rome to follow that on Sunday, Brailsford says that overnight recovery will be crucial for Froome if he is going to win the Giro d’Italia overall, and not suffer time loss like he did the day after his victory on Monte Zoncolan on stage 14.
“First things first it’s about recovery and who can recover best ahead of tomorrow,” Brailsford continued. “That will be the defining factor of this race, to be honest. I imagine that it will be a really difficult start.”