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PC WILL CRASH; WORLD OF SPORT ALL THE ACTION Dave: If British cycling gets too fluffy the empire we have built will crumble.

Byline: MIKE WALTERS sport@dailyrecord.co.uk

TOUR DE FRANCE godfather Sir Dave Brailsford insists the cycling empire he built will crumble if it turns "fluffy" and caves in to political correctness.

Brailsford is the architect of five Yellow Jersey triumphs in six years for Team Sky - with Chris Froome landing his fourth crown in Paris at the weekend - and the pioneer behind Team GB's gold rush in the Olympic velodrome.

But Froome's ride towards greatness has not dispersed the clouds over British cycling after a traumatic year of allegations ranging from bullying and sexism to missed drug tests, jiffy bags and UK Anti-Doping raids on Sky's offices.

And Brailsford fears that cycling will face a return to the wilderness from the self-styled 'Medal Factory' he governed if rejects with axes to grind hold sway over the brutal demands of winning at elite level.

As Sky flew home to London with the swag from Le Tour again, he said: "It's not a popularity contest - you have to look at the sporting achievement and Chris is right up there with the greats.

"I'm proud of Froome - he's a great ambassador for the sport."

But despite another golden sunset for Britain on the Champs-Elysees, Brailsford is still wary that it's open season on cycling.

The Team Sky principal said: "It is saddening and again there has been a lot of scrutiny, a lot of people coming out and airing grievances from the past.

"When we set out, going right back to when the National Lottery started, we won only one gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics.

"For a nation of 60-odd million people, that's not great and that didn't make us proud as a country.

"To go to what happened in Rio 20 years later, and how well we performed across all sports, that's a phenomenal transformation. As with all sports, it's great when you are sitting up in the stands supporting it but for the people who have to deliver that success, it's not easy to change.

"We were the gallant losers and somebody had to come along at some point and say, 'We are going to change this now, we are going to believe and we are going to win.' "Winning is a brutal game at times and the whole journey was built on that. We should be really careful not to get too PC about it to the point where coaches can't do anything.

"They will have to tread carefully or someone will complain and that will take the edge out of the system.

"I am all for athlete welfare. But there might be two tiers of winning now - winning with welfare is what we want but winning hard is not acceptable.

"I don't think the fans care either way - they want to see us win. Let's not go too far in the other direction or we will lose the very essence of what it took to win in the first place.

"Elite sport is not about taking part - elite sport is about winning and we can't get too fluffy about it.

"If we get too fluffy then we might as well accept that we just go for participation rather than out-and-out winning."

British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton was driven out last year by jilted sprinter Jess Varnish's claims that he told her to "go and have a baby" after she failed to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The furore generated by Varnish's allegations against Sutton caused bitter rifts within the sport.

But Brailsford said: "I don't think we should soften our stance too much. We should still be a nation that wants to win.

"You have to be fair, you can't have personal bias or discriminate but lots of people who look in the mirror lie about what they see back.

"I am still a big believer in the carrot and the stick."

1996: Britain win only one gold at Atalanta Olympics - in rowing 1997: Brailsford joins British Cycling as adviser 2003: Appointed performance director at British Cycling 2004: Team GB win two cycling golds at Athens Games 2008: Cyclists win eight golds in Beijing - including Chris Hoy sprint hat-trick 2010: Team Sky is launched with Brailsford as principal with 'clean team' manifesto of winning Tour de France within five years 2012: Bradley Wiggins becomes first Briton to win Le Tour. Another eight cycling golds for Team GB at London 2013: Brailsford is knighted in New Year Honours. Chris Froome is second consecutive Team Sky rider to win Tour 2014: Brailsford resigns at British Cycling to concentrate on Team Sky 2016: Hackers Fancy Bears leak Wiggins's medical records, revealing he was granted therapeutic use exemptions for powerful corticosteroid before three successive Grand Tours. Brailsford summoned to parliamentary select committee, which concludes Team Sky reputation is "in tatters" 2017: Froome wins fourth Yellow Jersey in five years on Le Tour for Team Sky

CAPTION(S):

REIGN MAN Brailsford has helped Froome, right, and Hoy, far right, win top titles
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 25, 2017
Words:832
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