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A Testament To Brailsford
on 26 December 2012
Let's be honest - if you're a cycling fan, you will have already had an opinion of Wiggins formed before the events of 2012 unfolded.
In the run up to this year he could be talented, wayward, self deprecating, vaguely self-destructive, passionate, humble, arrogant, and everything else in between. Compared with the other British guys on the scene, he was always a bit of an enigma. He could at times display the passion and eloquence of David Millar, the sheer bloody single mindedness of Mark Cavendish, and - periodically - the humility and affability of Sir Chris Hoy.
Like many, I saw him crash out of the 2011 Tour and thought "Well that's a relief" - his heart didn't seem in it, and Team Sky looked on course to miss their stated goal of winning the premier cycle race within 5 years. Then, early on in the season, things were obviously right at Sky, and more importantly right at the point where it mattered; between Wiggins' ears.
The Tour de France 2012 was, if we're honest, a bit dull - Team Sky just shut the thing down after the first week. But this actually made it more intriguing; it was obviously a team effort, a well oiled machine working at 100%. Perhaps it was also a watershed? The point where the big personalities of old dominated the race through pyramid teams (Merckx, Hainault, Armstrong, etc).
Towards the end of the Tour, it was apparent that Sky could have chosen either Froome or Wiggins to win if they wished.
This is, in essence, what this book is about. Although notionally centred on Wiggins, it really is a narrative of how Team Sky and British Cycling came to dominate 2012 on the road, and on the track. The professionalism, the science, the commitment, and the co-ordination of Brailsford and co really stand out - it is no wonder our cycle stars won so much. Through Wiggins' eyes, we are treated to an insight into this - and mightily jealous I am too. There is no hiding the fact that it didn't always work, but I'd have loved to have had the opportunity to have been part of an organisation such as this.
It also goes a long way in explaining all the praise heaped upon British Cycling by the likes of Hoy, Pendleton, Clancey, Storey, Rowsell, Thomas, Cav, Wiggo, Millar, and so on - it really is world class, and the story of Wiggins in 2012 really captures it. Once you read this book, you'll realise that in reality the BMCs, Rabobanks, OPQS, Katusha, and so on were competing against the combined might of British Cycling. It does beg the question as to how were the European teams so amateurish for so long given the money involved in the sport in the continent?
But really, in my opinion, this is an outstanding appraisal of Dave Brailsford's organisation. Wiggins winning what he did in 2012 is because of Brailsford, without him I think Bradley would still be where he was in 2009; talented, but adrift.