Brailsford free of blame

Sir Dave Brailsford is not to blame for Britain’s below-par performance at the Track Cycling World Championships in Colombia, says head coach Shane Sutton.

The men failed to win a medal for the first time since lottery funding began in 1998 as the

women won five medals.

Four of those medals were in Olympic races; Sutton set a target of six.

“The buck stops with me,” said Sutton. “For people to point the finger at Dave is unfounded. He’s been the greatest leader in British sport history.”

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If Bradley Wiggins is definitely going to ride the track I think if he was to say sooner rather than later that would be a bit of upward pressure

British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton

Brailsford missed the Worlds for a second successive year to focus on his other role as Team Sky principal, leaving Australian Sutton in charge.

“We weren’t having this conversation 12 months ago when Dave wasn’t here,” continued Sutton, referring to

Britain’s haul of nine medals in Minsk in 2013,

five of which were gold, that saw them top the medal table.

However, former Olympic champion Chris Boardman says Brailsford needs to fully commit to leading Great Britain.

“I’m not sure about an overhaul, but it needs a boss,” said British 1992 Olympic pursuit champion Boardman. “I believe Dave’s making a decision on what he’s going to do, but it needs a full-time boss.

“Dave would clearly be the best full-time boss, but if he’s not going to do that, it might be better if somebody else comes in and takes the reins.

“He’s such a character, if he’s still there it’s difficult for people to go in and take command, but it needs somebody like him.”

Brailsford has been British Cycling performance director since 2003 and has overseen success for Great Britain at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

During his time as Team Sky principal the 50-year-old has also helped Bradley Wiggins become Britain’s first Tour de France winner in 2012 and Chris Froome follow that with victory last year.

“Shane is great, a good second in command, but perhaps not the person to be the big boss,” added Boardman.

“British cycling’s in a period of change now. We have still got some fantastic ingredients, some great athletes and some great people are working for them.

“The potential is all still there. It just might need somebody to pull it all together.”

Sutton is adamant that he and Brailsford are still the men for the job and can lead successful teams to both the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“We love a battle. We’ve got a real scrap on here now,” he continued.

“I don’t want to go anywhere; I probably want it more than the riders. I want to stay here, I want to take them into Rio and Tokyo, if I’ve got the opportunity.”

However, he knows that he needs the riders to step up their performances if they are to match the 12 medals they won at the 2008 Olympics or nine at London 2012.

“I’ve got concerns with the current crop of riders we’ve got and it’s only them that can change,” he pointed out.

“They need to look at themselves. They got it wrong. They went out for the festive season, came back and weren’t where they should have been [performance-wise].

“We’ve just gone backwards and I think the accountability rests with the riders.”

Sutton also appealed to four-time Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins and London 2012 team pursuit gold medallist Peter Kennaugh to make clear their intentions regarding possible track returns for the Rio Olympics in two years.

“I know Pete’s appetite for the track is still very big,” Sutton said. “We would welcome him with open arms, and Bradley.

“If Brad’s definitely going to ride the track I think if he was to say sooner rather than later that that is definitely a goal then that might just be that little bit of upward pressure that the other guys need.”

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