London 2012 - Brailsford: 2012 bigger than Tour de France

Tue, 12 Jul 18:00:00 2011

Mark Cavendish and other top British riders are likely to use next year's Tour de France as part of their training for the London Olympics, Team GB cycling leader Dave Brailsford has said.

London 2012 - '2012 bigger than Tour'

Brailsford made it clear, however, that the 2012 Games were the top priority.

"Arguably the best preparation is to ride the Tour de France, come out of that and then into London," Brailsford, who is also manager of Team Sky in the current Tour told reporters at a British Olympic Association presentation.

"So it could well be that we see quite a number of British riders riding the Tour de France in preparation for the Olympic Games."

Sprinter Cavendish, who has won two stages in the 2011 Tour and 17 over four years, has a chance to be Britain's first gold medallist next year with the men's road race on the opening weekend of the Games.

The Manxman stood out at the last Beijing Games as the only member of Britain's track cycling team to return without a medal despite pulling out of the Tour early to prepare after winning four stages.

British cyclists won seven out of 10 track titles in Beijing.

Brailsford - literally on a flying visit from the Tour - had no doubt that Cavendish, despite the huge frustration of 2008, would be completely committed.

"A home games is a big deal and the first potential medal at a home games, I don't think it comes any bigger. Any athlete with the opportunity of doing that is going to take that very seriously and I know Mark will," he told Reuters.

"So it's then a question of making sure that preparation is absolutely spot on for that event, making sure that we get the right team around him...to try and deliver him right to that final point where he then goes off to try to win the race."

"For Mark it might be do the whole event (Tour), for another rider it might be doing part of the event," he added.

"We've got some pretty good ideas about what we want to do and how we want to do it. The one key thing is that we will be 100 percent focused on the Olympic Games.

"The thing you've got to remember about Mark is that the Tour de France is going to be there every year," added Brailsford. "The London Olympic Games are going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. so I think he'd happily sacrifice one for the other."

Brailsford said he was fortunate to have his foot in both camps, with Britain's Olympic gold medallists Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas both with his Team Sky.

"I don't have to argue with professional teams about someone like Geraint Thomas for example and try and get them to forego his participation in the Tour de France for the sake of a British ride at the Olympic Games," he said.

"They (the teams) wouldn't do that normally but given the position that I hold I can decide exactly what the best run-in and race programme will be for the likes of Geraint Thomas."

Brailsford said the Olympics would also be the absolute priority for Team Sky next year.

"This is a unique one-off home event and everything that I do will be geared around making sure that we are ready for the Olympic Games and if there's ever any question of prioritisation, then we always prioritise London 2012."

Reuters

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account