sport

Brailsford: Star names could leave

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford accepts they are unable to pay the big bucks in order to keep their star riders.

The British team were formed in 2009 and last year saw Bradley Wiggins romp to Tour de France victory, with team-mate and countryman Chris Froome following him home in second.

Further Grand Tours success is expected in 2013 as Team Sky target continual improvement on the road.

Unlike many other professional cycling teams, though, Team Sky spends a substantial chunk of their budget on team operations, effecting salaries as a result.

Brailsford concedes the fact others can pay more means his team may struggle to keep all their key riders but believes the future is bright.

"What we're doing is like stocks and shares," he said, speaking at Team Sky's Majorca training camp. "We're growing the value of everything we've got.

"The current team we've got as they perform more and more and more, their market value will jump up and up and up and we can't afford it.

"The whole model we work on is make sure that out riders can maintain the level of performance."

Teams get nothing for parting company with successful riders aside from improvements on the commercial side linked to their success.

As a result, Brailsford would welcome the introduction of a football-style transfer system in cycling.

"I do think there is a lot of merit in it," he said.

"It is not so much for us at the top level, which is great, but for the lower teams. The structure of the sport could change.

"You could be a third division team, take a young, developing under-23 rider at 18, do a really good job at developing them and then sell them on to a Sky, for example, and a make a profit.

"Then you would have a different revenue stream, a different financial structure."

Brailsford, who is also British Cycling chief, spoke openly about the future of Team Sky in a three-hour presentation, reiterating his desire for them to become the "world's most admired sports team".

With that in mind, he confirmed the team plans to move to a central base in southern France soon.

Team Sky expect to secure a property for a permanent training base in the Nice area this year, while there is a "strong possibility" of also moving the logistical base there from Belgium.

"There is a lot of discussion in Britain at the moment with athletics trying to go to a centralised model, which we have at British Cycling," he said.

"In this particular world, where people are living all over Europe with families to then pull him into one area is a bit of a challenge.

"We are thinking what can we replicate here in Majorca and physically be in the same place together.

"Athletes want the best and if you think you are missing out or that you could be better by moving from Sheffield to Birmingham, or Manchester to Glasgow, they'll move.

"It is not the case of saying 'everybody has to live here for the sake of being together'. There has to be a service provision there that gives them incentive to want to be there because they think they can be better."