Wiggins hints at Brailsford unrest

Hampshire Chronicle: Sir Dave Brailsford, pictured, is leaving British Cycling to focus on Team Sky Sir Dave Brailsford, pictured, is leaving British Cycling to focus on Team Sky

Sir Bradley Wiggins has suggested unrest at British Cycling marred Sir Dave Brailsford's final days as performance director.

Brailsford led Britain to an unprecedented period of success over 10 years in the role, but has stepped down to concentrate full-time on his job as Team Sky principal.

The 50-year-old Welshman established Team Sky, winning the Tour de France with Wiggins in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013.

Brailsford's position with British Cycling was under scrutiny, particularly after a disappointing Track World Championships, which he missed to focus on his Team Sky duties.

And Wiggins, an integral figure in both British Cycling and Team Sky, hinted at discontent in the ranks.

"He told me last Friday, but I've seen it coming for a while because he's been umming and ahhing about it," Wiggins said on cyclingweekly.co.uk.

"I don't think all was well at the velodrome, there was a lot of sort of sniping and things.

"He's obviously been under pressure for a while. One bad result and all of a sudden, it's all Dave's fault even if he's coach of the year in 2012.

"That's sport, one minute you're on top of it all and the next minute, one bad result and everyone calling for your head.

"I think from his point of view, he's taken it as far as he can take it. He's been there for the best part of 15 years.

"I think it's incredible and I'm sure someone will step in and freshen things up a bit."

Brailsford has led Britain's cyclists to an unprecedented period of success, with eight gold medals at the Beijing and London Olympics and has arguably been more influential than any other person in turning cycling into a mainstream sport in this country.

The decision was made following an internal review and is Manchester-based British Cycling's Sir Alex Ferguson moment; how do you replace such an influential figure?

British Cycling plan to replace him with three men.

Shane Sutton, Brailsford's right-hand man in more than a decade of success and previously performance manager, has been named technical director, while Andy Harrison will continue as programmes director.

A new role of head of performance support will be created.

Sutton said "a big hole" has been created and the need for three roles is both an acknowledgement of Brailsford's extraordinary prowess and the growth of British Cycling.

As well as Brailsford, Professor Steve Peters will leave British Cycling, stepping down as the team's psychiatrist.

Peters now works with a range of other individuals and teams and will work with England's footballers ahead of the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

"This is a big step but it is the right decision for the team and for me," said Brailsford, who joined British Cycling in 1998 and was appointed performance director in 2003.

"Since London 2012, we have worked hard on succession planning and that has meant we've got to a point where I can move on, knowing the team will go from strength to strength."

At the end of the London 2012 Olympics, Brailsford had told Britain's staff and riders he would be with them on Copacabana Beach celebrating more success four years on.

But the success of Team Sky has effectively forced Brailsford's hand as he has determined that the two jobs have become too big for one man to combine.

British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake insisted Brailsford will still be available for advice, given the close relationship between the national governing body and Team Sky.

Drake added the timing of the change was ideal.

Drake said: "It's a natural evolution. We're confident the timing's right and we're in a strong place.

"I don't think straight after 2012 would've been the right time.

"The way that it's been done has given us time to make sure we get this right.

"I'm not worried about it because of the system and the legacy that Dave has left behind."

Brailsford's grip on British Cycling has loosened since the establishment of Team Sky in 2009, a commitment which is ever-growing, including this year with the Tour de France beginning in Yorkshire.

Brailsford missed two successive Track World Championships due to Team Sky commitments, including February's event in Cali, Colombia where a disappointing performance was followed by the latest review and the leadership changes.

Despite Britain's men returning without a medal for the first time since 1998, Brailsford has no doubt the talent is present for another successful Games in Rio.

"We have a fantastically talented group of very young, brilliantly enthusiastic riders," he told Sky Sports News.

"Sometimes you just need to freshen things up. That will help that group going forward I've got no concerns at all that they'll move on to bigger things and Rio will be a fantastic event for them."

The vacancy created should be filled by someone with a knowledge of cycling and sports science, Drake said.

Former British Cycling and Team Sky coach Dan Hunt, who joined the Premier League as head of elite performance last November, fits the mould.

British Cycling coaches Paul Manning and Iain Dyer are highly regarded within the organisation, but would likely prefer a more hands-on brief.

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