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Speaking to the BBC, Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford has said that Chris Froome’s stage 19 attack at the Giro d’Italia was the result of careful planning and a detailed fuelling strategy, insisting that what the rider did was credible.
He acknowledged that there were plenty of questions about the ride, which saw Froome attack 80 kilometres from the end, ride solo to the finish and take over three minutes on his rivals. The attack saw him claw his way back from fourth overall, 3 minutes 22 seconds back, and into the pink jersey, ultimately winning the Giro.
“The way the whole stage panned out, it was spectacular,” he said. “But ultimately it’s very rare in cycling where you get the four or five leaders in a race just thrashing it out, no support, man against man. Particularly that far out from the end.
“And so it was bound to raise some eyebrows, and people are bound to ask questions. But that’s only fair, because people are… ‘That was spectacular, I want to believe in it, but can I believe in it?’ That’s why it’s our job to sit here and explain why people should believe it, and be more open and transparent about it than potentially we’ve been criticised for not being in the past.
“When you sit down and assess it – and we’ve got the ability to look at the power Chris produced – it wasn’t out of the norm for what he can do.”
Brailsford and the whole Sky team have been under scrutiny for some time after it emerged that Bradley Wiggins had injections of a potent corticosteroid prior to his 2012 Tour de France win, and before the 2011 Tour and the 2013 Giro.
A British parliamentary committee was set up to investigate this plus the delivery of an unknown package to Wiggins in June 2011.
That committee issued a scathing report in March. “From the evidence that has been received by the committee regarding the use of triamcinolone at Team Sky during the period under investigation, and particularly in 2012, we believe that this powerful corticosteroid was being used to prepare Bradley Wiggins, and possibly other riders supporting him, for the Tour de France,” the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee concluded.
“The purpose of this was not to treat medical need, but to improve his power to weight ratio ahead of the race. The application for the TUE for the triamcinolone for Bradley Wiggins, ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, also meant that he benefited from the performance enhancing properties of this drug during the race.”
While the committee said that such use did not constitute a violation of the WADA code, it said that it did “cross the ethical line that David Brailsford says he himself drew for Team Sky.
“In this case, and contrary to the testimony of David Brailsford in front of the Committee, we believe that drugs were being used by Team Sky, within the WADA rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need.”
The committee was critical of Brailsford, saying that he “must take responsibility for these failures, the regime under which Team Sky riders trained and competed and the damaging scepticism about the legitimacy of his team’s performance and accomplishments.”
On multiple occasions in the past when the team has come under pressure, Brailsford has pledged greater transparency, only for issues to arise again.
In his interview with the BBC, Brailsford once again pledged transparency.
“It is challenging for some people. It would be nice if we could just get in touch with some people and invite them and say, just come and have a look at what we do. Come and talk to us, come and see us.
“Come and be the judge for yourself. And then you’ll see for yourselves that we do everything we can to try to make sure that everything is 100% clean.”