AL SALTIYAH IN SAMAIL, Oman (Reuters) - Having helped a Briton to Tour de France glory for the first time would put huge pressure on anyone, but Team Sky supremo David Brailsford remains cool as a cucumber as the British outfit begin the 2013 season.
Speaking to Reuters before the start of Thursday’s fourth stage at the Tour of Oman, the man behind Bradley Wiggins’ Tour triumph last term is not making any big promises but knows what his team can achieve.
“We have to consider that last season is just part of the past. We are now focused on a new season, new objectives. We start again from scratch with the same motivation, the same energy,” said Brailsford.
“We’re doing it without any pressure. The off season has been tough for cycling, for everyone and it feels good to get back to racing,” he added, referring to the Lance Armstrong scandal, which saw the American being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and admit to doping.
“We have different ambitions and we are not thinking about defending something. We won the Tour de France once, we want to do it twice and it might be in 2013, or in 2014 or 2015. We’re not defending anything.”
Bettering last year’s results will be hard, however, as Wiggins won the Tour with team mate and fellow Briton Chris Froome taking second place overall.
Froome has started this season well, taking the overall lead at the Tour of Oman by finishing second in the fourth stage behind Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez.
Froome and Wiggins will not ride together again before the Tour, with the latter focusing mainly on winning the Giro d‘Italia.
Brailsford, however, remained vague when asked about the team’s grand Tour ambitions.
“Brad will ride the Giro and Chris focuses on the Tour. If everything goes well, Chris will be in good form on the Tour but we also hope that the five-week rest between the Giro and the Tour will help Brad start the Tour in great condition,” he said.
Wiggins followed his Tour triumph last year with the individual time trial gold at the London Olympics but Brailsford wants more.
“It is true that he had great successes. When you win important titles, you just want to continue,” he said.
“I think that he is still hungry. He is more mature. But he is 32 and he will not continue at this level for long so he has to make the most of the time he has left.”
Brailsford, who also oversaw Britain’s record medal haul in track cycling at the Olympics, was not too concerned by a growing rivalry between Froome and Wiggins.
“I don’t have two egos (to deal with). They are two talents,” he said.
“With them, you have to be honest, to tell them how it’s going to work, you have to have a form of authority and treat everyone as a rider.”
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Mark Meadows