The Ineos Grenadiers have launched a new season but ‘godfather’ Dave Brailsford is still very much a force to be reckoned with

The Ineos Grenadiers have launched a new season but ‘godfather’ Dave Brailsford is still very much a force to be reckoned with

When the new CEO of Ineos Grenadiers, John Allert, told many journalists earlier this week that Sir Dave Brailsford was the “godfather” of the team, he meant it with a small G, meaning the founder. But it was probably understandable (and a consequence of the journalist’s license) that the quote appeared in various publications with a capital G, meaning that Allert compared his boss to Don Corleone.

Allert is introducing a new leadership at the club, Brailsford’s long-time deputy Rod Ellingworth resigned in November amid internal disputes, and Brailsford stepped back to focus on Ineos’ new project, Manchester United. Dr Scott Drawer is the new director of operations on the road, managing director Steve Cummings and head coach Xabier Artetxe, who all report to Allert.

In many ways it is the end of the season, the season in which Brailsford put his hands on the ground, controlling every aspect of the bike’s operation. It was one of unparalleled success and much controversy, too. But really, this is a change and not a big change. Brailsford is still very strong, which Allert himself has to tell him. Despite the upheaval at Ineos Grenadiers in recent months, even announcing the club’s new age, Brailsford remains a strong family head.

This came to light when Geraint Thomas explained on a podcast this week that he needed permission from “big bosses”, including Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, to attack both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France this season.

“The main goal this year is to return to the Giro, I will do everything,” he said. TheGeraint Thomas Cycling Club podcast, narrowly beaten by Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic to last year’s Giro victory. “When it’s over, I want to have another bash… Then it’s decided to go on tour. I’m talking to the band in December and they were like, ‘We’re bringing you back, but we have to clarify with Dave. [Brailsford] and Jim [Ratcliffe], big bosses’. It was all about that. “

Brailsford’s focus will be on Old Trafford, for the short term, as he assesses the club’s performance and personnel. Based on what we know about Manchester United, it could take a while. But he will still have a major influence on the Grenadiers and will have a say in matters such as promotion contracts and recruitment. And his days on the road may not be over.

Allert said: “It is a great opportunity to have him in this team. “His position is the director of Ineos Sport, so he is responsible for the different sports, all the practices, not just cycling. But it speaks a lot about the way the team has done that … now we have found another person from the world of cycling who is part of the the most famous teams in the world. I think that says a lot about what cycling has been doing in the last 10 or 15 years.

“Obviously, Dave has a passion and a proven track record in cycling, so don’t be surprised at all to see him come to the race. He’s not going to come to the race to do our homework, he’s going to come to support the team.”

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, left, and Sir Dave Brailsford, right, meet United manager Erik ten Hag

(Manchester United via Getty Images)

Ratcliffe has built a long history in sports that span Formula One, sailing and rugby, as well as football clubs in France, Switzerland and the Ivory Coast. Buying 28 percent of Manchester United is the biggest multi-billion dollar deal yet, and restoring the club to its former glory will take a lot of money in the coming years.

Allert insists the organization has not taken its eye off the road, and that winning cycling’s biggest races, including the Tour de France, remains an important goal.

“We are the first GC (general team) that wants to innovate and be at the top of the game. It’s always been that way. I think sometimes people get the wrong idea that we’ve been looking, but it’s always been the DNA of the team, that’s passed on from the owners. former (Sky) ownership of Ineos, and its ambition is the same.”

How Ineos plans to reclaim the yellow jersey that has eluded them since 2019 is still unclear. There is no contender in the current group: former champions Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal are the fewest riders in the peloton, due to age and injury respectively. 22-year-old Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez was Ineos’ top rider at last year’s Tour de France, finishing fifth, and has great potential, but dethroning Jonas Vingegaard, Tadej Pogacar, Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic could be a few years away. .

“I think everyone can see in the sport at the moment, there are some very good GC riders,” Allert says. “I believe we have a number of great GC riders – all experienced, proven GC riders, but we also have the next generation of riders. Our goals are to get closer to the top of the Tour podium, with every grand tour, every race. Whether it’s this year or next year is unknown. The competition is tough and tough. But we accept that because we hope it will make us better.

“We are no longer hunters, we are hunters. Our mission is more than just finding teams that have done well in the past few years. It’s about finding ways to cut them off.”

Here Allert emphasizes the importance of his new director of operations, Dr Drawer, who worked under Brailsford at Team Sky. Drawer was most recently head of sport at Millfield School, Somerset’s leading private school for sport, and has helped Britain work beyond the science and technology benchmarks at the recent Olympic Games.

Allert said: “It is no coincidence that our leader in this game is a scientist. “He is an innovator, a proven disruptor. He embraces technology, data, science, and I don’t think that alone will give us the answer, but of course, we will leave nothing to chance in trying to improve our competition.”

Teenager Josh Tarling celebrates winning bronze in the men’s time trial at the 2023 World Championships

(PA)

There are several types of Ineos cables available today. In Tom Pidcock and Josh Tarling, they have young British riders who can set new records. But their style means they won’t be the best on the road waiting. This is a team that won seven Tours de France between 2012 and 2019, however, for all their strength, it seems that they are about to return the jersey.

It seems unlikely that Ineos will sign big names to help them in their fight back to the top. Allert denied reports that the team’s budget had been cut, but did not say it had been increased. Rumors last year about Ineos signing Evenepoel appeared to have fizzled out after the Belgian genius signed a new contract with Soudal-QuickStep. So it’s down to the existing team, at this point, to bring in the competition. Brailsford may not be on the road all the time, but the godfather will be watching their every move.

“I think the most important thing for us was to find our way again clearly, and to make sure that people are aligned with multiple goals,” Allert adds. And to some extent that’s what he brought me to do. Obviously we will see the fruits of these changes in the next few years, but I have a lot of confidence in the people we have. I think we have the gold standard for support staff. I think we have an amazing list of riders. I think we have riders who work very hard at heart. And we are focusing on this process. “

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