Froome has never won a one-day race. Though he has three Tour de France titles and stage victories, he counts only a third place in the Giro dell’Appennino in his palmarès.
“I don’t think his lack of one-day experience will count against him,” Brailsford told Sky Sports. “We saw in the Tour a very much more aggressive Chris taking his opportunities.
“What those guys do well is they wait, they are patient, they know when to go, when to use their energy and when to hold back a little bit, and I think Chris has developed that a lot in his riding, so I think he will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Froome gained early time on his Tour rivals this July by soloing away on a descent to Bagnères-du-Luchon and attacking on the flat wind-blasted roads to Montpellier. After the time trials and mountain days, he won the Tour de France by a healthy 4-05 minutes over Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale).
Out of the current crop of grand tour winners, only Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has a better record in one-day events. He won Il Lombardia last year solo, and placed second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and third in Milan-San Remo. Nibali, perhaps for that reason, has much better odds to win the road race that finishes on Copacabana Beach after three times up the 8.9-kilometre Chinesa ascent.
The British team may support Geraint Thomas (Sky) or Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) – both with prestigious wins in their palmarès. Yates last year won the Clásica San Sebastián. Thomas won the E3 Harelbeke last year and this year, took 12th in the Tour of Flanders.
Froome is also racing the hilly 54.5-kilometre time trial on Wednesday. In the 2012 London Games, he won the bronze medal.
“I think if he time trials to the best of his ability in his current form,” Brailsford added, “he will be right up there as one of the top favourites.”