ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Chris Hoy, the retired king of the boards, said Team Sky’s success in the Tour de France has roots in the pine.
Hoy, who hung up his cleats after winning a record sixth gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games, said he had a front-row seat as Dave Brailsford began working on the idea that eventually became Team Sky.
“They used the template of the British national team, and had that approach to the team, with professionalism, attention to detail, to diet, positioning. It is mind-blowing the success they’ve had,” the 37-year-old Hoy told journalists Sunday in Adelaide, where he is attending the Santos Tour Down Under as a guest of the race organization.
When Brailsford unveiled Team Sky in 2010, he promised a British winner of the Tour de France within five years. Many laughed at that notion, but the team has produced back-to-back winners with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, and enters the 2014 season as the team to beat.
Hoy, who knows Brailsford well, said the team’s goals seemed unrealistic at the time.
“No disrespect to Wiggins or Froome, but when they stated their goals, not even the most optimistic person could have believed their success,” Hoy said.
“When Chris won it again this summer, everyone thought, ‘Oh, great, we’ve done it again.’ But just think about that. We never even had a British rider on the podium before, and now we’ve won two in a row. We’re all very proud of what they’ve done.”
Hoy was an integral part of the resurgence of the UK cycling program. Brailsford took over the reins of the track program, and quickly put the world on notice with unparalleled success on the boards, culminating with eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.
By 2008, the idea of creating a road team based on the same principles was already in an advanced stage.
“There is a culture of excellence that nothing but your best will do,” Hoy said. “Not just for the riders, but every single person in the organization. If you’re not, you’re gone. You have to be at your best every single day.”
Hoy, who said he has no regrets about his retirement, said he can appreciate what the road team has accomplished.
“You only realize it’s there when you step out of it, and see the contrast of other teams,” he said. “I realize how lucky I was to be part of that.”