When it comes to the amount of British riders on the start line in Leeds today, Sir Dave Brailsford says people should focus on quality, not quantity.
Out of 198 cyclists who will ride the Tour de France, only four are British – Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates. It is a number that contradicts the general consensus that British cycling is growing.
But Team Sky chief Brailsford said: “I can understand that view totally but one of the reasons the Tour is here is because we’ve won it twice through two different British riders.
“So you could go for quantity of British riders but, personally, I’d go for quality. I’d rather have two riders who have won the race than a quantity of average bike riders.
“Of course it would be great to have more British riders in the race. I have dedicated my last 15 years trying to develop British cycling, and nobody would like a team full of Brits more than I would, trust me.
“I love this sport, I love Britain, I’m very patriotic. But my job is to choose a team to win and we’re blessed to have a British rider who is capable of battling for that win and we have to put a team behind him.
“As well as British riders, we should get behind the event. It’s a world-class event, this is the most northerly point this race has started from and we’ve got three days of cycling.
“We’ve got a great opportunity to show what a brilliant part of the world Yorkshire is and we should celebrate the fact that the race is here.”
Brailsford also believes that there is a strength in depth in British cycling, and that one day that could result in a second team competing at World Tour level.
“Ultimately, if the sport continues to grow there is scope for that,” he said.
“It would be healthy for Britain and it would put us at Sky on our toes and we’d have to be even better than we are now.”