Sir Dave Brailsford did not hide his delight after Sky finished third on stage four of the Tour de France, a team time trial in Nice, this afternoon.
Sky completed the 25-kilometre course just three seconds slower than stage winners Orica-GreenEdge and although Chris Froome gained time over all his rivals, Brailsford was relieved that his team would not have to defend the yellow jersey in the forthcoming stages.
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When asked if it was better to have missed out on the maillot jaune, he replied: “100 per cent, 100 per cent. I shouldn’t really punch the air when there’s two seconds, it’s like you’re celebrating someone else winning.
“I think the important thing given the crashes and everything else is that we’re not too far away in terms of time differences come the end.
“They [the riders] all felt they did a good second split; that was always the intention as we try to ride a faster second half of the race and I think we did that. Coming into the cross headwind down the promenade, they were really motoring so fair play to the lads. As always, they think they could have gone faster.
“We’ve got nine guys left in the race, we’ve done a decent team time trial so we’ve got to be very, very happy compared to where we were 48 hours ago.”
Brailsford also praised Geraint Thomas, who completed turns at the front of the Sky train and was only dropped with one kilometre remaining despite suffering from a fractured pelvis following a stage one crash.
“All credit to Geraint. He was going to sit at the back, but the next thing he’s going through [to the front]. Credit to him, that takes some bottle,” said Brailsford.