Father time marches on and it waits for no one. Back in 2010 there was a new team in the World Tour Peloton, then called Team Sky they were dressed in black with a line of blue on their back, a line which had the wording ‘the difference between success and failure’. This is so typically Sir David Brailsford that he has etched himself in to cycling mythology with his ‘Marginal Gains’ mantra and doing things differently.
At least they seemed revolutionary back in 2012, hiring an Australian former rowing coach Tim Kerrison. Kerrison helped steer Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to their respective titles in 2012 and 2013, working closely with the team he is still part of to this day.
Today, Fran Millar, who has been with the team since its inception, announced she would be leaving the team. After two decades in cycling, Fran has decided to become CEO of Belstaff, also owned by INEOS. “The last 11 years with Sky/INEOS were the dictionary definition of unreal. I have to pinch myself sometimes that it all actually happened. There’ve been some indescribable, mind-blowing highs and some heartbreaking, gut-wrenching lows.” Millar announced on Twitter, continuing “A million thank you’s to Dave B for everything you taught me, thank you to the staff and riders for the most incredible decade, you guys are the best of the best. Thank you to the fans who always had our backs – I will be cheering with you from the sidelines from now on.”
It seems with Chris Froome moving on, Geraint Thomas’s contract up for renewal next year and his future after fracturing to his hip on Stage 4 of the Giro and a wealth of young talent being signed by INEOS, Tom Pidcock, Laurens de plus, Dani Martinez adding to Egan Bernal and the emerging talent of Filippo Ganna, it seems the future is bright for INEOS.
While Team Sky was born on innovation and the changing of the guard is happening before our eyes as Sky/INEOS did not take a yellow Jersey at the tour this year. They have won six in the last eight from 2012 onwards. Egan Bernal was not able to defend his crown, he did not start stage 16, sighting chronic back pain.
“We have come a very long way since the start of this team, a very successful one,” Brailsford tells Het Nieuwsblad “the sport is always progressing. If you’ve found a way to win, then you stick with that way. The result: we continued to work with our heads down and did not notice that other teams were overtaking us.”
“Only now do we realize that we have to keep questioning ourselves, that we have to keep reinventing ourselves. Now is the time to take a step back and think about the next five years. Where should we improve? We cannot afford to keep working the way we did. We have come to the point where we have to admit that other teams have passed us and that it is time for a different approach.”
It seems as if the INEOS Phoenix has set fire and now from the ashes rise the hopes to take the team forward. In a year where racing has been few and far between and the season runs long, 2021 seems a bit too soon for INEOS to return to winning ways, Brailsford has already said they’ve already started planning for how to gain the yellow jersey back in 2021 however other teams will not just stand by and watch INEOS come back to the fore. They’ve got a hell of a fight on their hands.