Brailsford charts Giro goals
All systems go ahead of first Grand Tour
By Jonathan Turner. Last Updated: 30/04/10 6:27pm
Brailsford: High hopes for Giro
Team Principal Dave Brailsford believes Team Sky have the potential to "hit all the goals" when the Giro d'Italia gets under way.
The team's nine-man squad is headed by Bradley Wiggins and looks to have high hopes in terms of the general classification, sprint finishes and the time trials.
Wiggins is joined by Michael Barry, Dario Cioni, Steve Cummings, Chris Froome, Mathew Hayman, Greg Henderson, Morris Possoni and Chris Sutton for what is Team Sky's first-ever Grand Tour.
"It's a well-balanced team and there's a real opportunity in that first week for us," Brailsford told the www.teamsky.com website when he assessed this year's 3,418km route which starts in the Netherlands on May 8 and finishes just over three weeks later in Verona.
"Bradley will certainly be looking at the opening prologue but Greg rode a very good prologue at the Tour de Romandie this week and is more than capable of a big performance.
"And then going forward the team time trial (stage four) is something we'll be looking to get everything right in by riding a disciplined race and performing to the best of our abilities.
"There are also flat stages in that first week so, combine them with the prologue, the team time trial and the potential on the overall standings, and there's an opportunity to hit all the goals.
"Moving to the second week and you've got two flat stages so again riders like CJ [Sutton], Mat Hayman, Steve Cummings and of course Henderson finishing it off is the aim. We'd look on focussing on those two flat stages."
The third week is when the toughest of the mountain stages really kick in, starting with the brutal climb up Monte Zoncolan at the end of the 218km stage 15.
"That third week we've got most of the big mountain stages as well as the mountain time trial at Plan de Corones," said Brailsford. "So you have an opportunity for riders who aren't in contention for the GC to look at stage wins but if you are in contention for the GC then you'll obviously have the full support of the team."
Wiggins will have high hopes of making his mark in all facets of the race and Brailsford has been particularly impressed with how he is handling being the focus of attention, saying: "Bradley is getting more and more comfortable with his role and position in the team."
And while all eyes will also be on Wiggins in July at the Tour de France as he looks to better his fourth place in 2009, Brailsford was quick to stress that he will also give the Giro the full respect it deserves.
He added: "You can't go to a race like the Giro and not take it seriously. You go to the Giro to race the Giro and that's what Bradley will do."
Brailsford was equally keen to highlight the strengths of the other eight men who will be vital in the coming weeks, starting with Michael Barry.
"Michael can do a fantastic role in support of Bradley," explained Brailsford. "He's a real key player but also he's been climbing very well so has a big role to play in the mountains.
"Dario Cioni has performed very well in this race on the GC in previous years. So I think for him it will be a steady first week before really looking towards him at the back-end of the race.
"Steve Cummings is in great shape at the moment and again would very much ride in support of Bradley. He too is climbing well so may have an opportunity in the latter stages while Morris Possoni is another guy who will be to the fore in the mountains."
Communication the key
Moving on to Mathew Hayman, Brailsford added: "Mat is very good on the road at managing and communicating and obviously he will be asked by the sports directors to utilise that skill. He's a big rider for the first and second weeks in particular."
In those first couple of weeks Team Sky will have opportunities to put the focus on to their sprinters as Brailsford explained: "It goes without saying that Greg's targets are the prologue and the sprints.
"Again with CJ it's the flatter stages and the sprints where he did so well at the start of the year and he also has an important support role to play."
Chris Froome is battling back to full fitness after a tough couple of weeks but Brailsford is backing him to shine, especially in the second half of the race, telling us: "Chris has been ill so is coming back from that and a crash so I think we want to nurse him back and make sure he's ready to go.
"Chris' main attribute is his climbing skills so I'm sure he'll be looking at some of those later stages in the mountains."