Brailsford: Pressure off Sky

Hampshire Chronicle: Team Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford has backed Richie Porte, left, to deliver a third consecutive Tour de France title for the team Team Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford has backed Richie Porte, left, to deliver a third consecutive Tour de France title for the team

Team Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford believes the pressure is off his team as they look to deliver a third successive winner of the Tour de France.

Following on from the success of British pair Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, it is Richie Porte who carries the hopes of the team for the remainder of this year's race.

Froome was the leader of the Team Sky effort heading into the 2014 event but was forced to withdraw with fractures to his wrist and hand after falls on stages four and five.

With Wiggins not selected for the team, it leaves Porte to head the challenge against leader Vincenzo Nibali and two-time winner Alberto Contador, and Brailsford - who once again defended the decision to leave 2012 winner Wiggins at home - has backed the Australian to impress on the remainder of the tour.

"It is a very big challenge," he told BBC Radio 5Live's Sportsweek programme.

"Unfortunately Chris crashed out but you move on quickly and we have a great rider in Richie Porte and he is looking good - we are very much still in the hunt.

"It is an interesting position to find ourselves in because I think the real pressure is on Alberto Contador and his team (Team Tinkoff-Saxo).

"What we can do for once is, instead of controlling the race like we normally do, we can be a bit more canny and cagey and let Contador make the running and try and benefit off the back of that.

"We adjusted very, very quickly and we are looking at and concentrating on the riders we have in the race and doing everything we can to try and win. I can't see why he can't win and whilst we are in the hunt we will believe he can and strategise around that."

With Froome now out of the tour more questions have been asked regarding the decision to leave Wiggins at home.

The two have not got on in the past but Brailsford insists the decision was the right one, with the team built around Froome strong enough to flourish even in his absence.

"We started out with the aim of trying to win this race and the rider in the best position to win this race was Chris Froome," he said.

"Having seen him here in this race I believe he would have won this race. Having done that it was about picking the best team around Chris to optimise our chances of winning - that is what we did.

"With Chris being out of the race we are still in a good position. I think we are focusing on the here, looking forward and focusing on the riders who are in the race and not out of the race."

After eight stages, Porte sits third in the overall classification, one minute and 58 seconds adrift of Nibali, with the Italian's Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang in second.

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