Brailsford waits on Tour plans
Sir Dave Brailsford will wait to decide whether to reunite Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in the Team Sky squad for the Tour de France.
Wiggins and Froome are Britain's first Tour winners, with the latter Team Sky's established and undisputed leader after a dominant victory in 2013.
Team Sky, Froome and Wiggins have been at pains to point out there is no lingering ill-feeling between the two riders dating back to La Toussuire in the 2012 Tour, when Wiggins felt his team-mate Froome jeopardised his chances with a momentary attack against team orders.
Wiggins, who in 2012 became the Tour's first British winner, missed last year's race through injury and accepts he would have to serve the 2013 champion if he is to line-up at the start of the 101st edition in Leeds on July 5.
It makes for an intriguing sub-plot and Brailsford is determined not to add to the potential for soap opera.
"It's not just about Brad, or Chris," said Brailsford, who was speaking at the launch of the Pinarello Dogma F8, Team Sky's new bike designed by the Italian manufacturer, Jaguar and the British squad.
"There's a whole team. The team we choose will ultimately be the one that we feel will be the most cohesive and fit for the opportunity."
Froome is "our leader, barring any illness or accidents between now and July", Brailsford insists.
In 2011, Wiggins was the sole leader, but crashed out with a broken collarbone and Team Sky were left without a back-up option.
Asked whether Wiggins, who won the Tour of California in May, could be a reserve leader, Brailsford was coy and pointed to Australian Richie Porte as someone who could fulfil that role.
"It's always good to have a Plan B, obviously," Brailsford added.
"But you've got to make sure your Plan A works if you want to win.
"It's not often you get, 'let's revert to Plan B' and win. It's not the norm. Be that ourselves, or another team. Whoever delivers Plan A normally wins."
Brailsford has in his mind the nine riders who will start stage one of the Tour from Leeds to Harrogate, but was not prepared to reveal his thoughts or his final selection date as form, fitness and illness could shape the decision.
It is likely to come after the Criterium du Dauphine and the Tour de Suisse and, if Froome and Wiggins are selected, they may not come together as a unit until the Tour.
Brailsford, who has relinquished his role as British Cycling performance director to concentrate solely on Team Sky, added: "Selection in itself is one of the most challenging aspects of the job. It's never perfect.
"It's not a spreadsheet-type thing. It's not a numbers thing.
"There's a certain art to it, I think."
Froome, as leader, will be consulted, but Brailsford and his coaches will have the final say.
Wiggins' win in California may have added to the dilemma, coming a month after he placed ninth in the one-day cobbled classic Paris-Roubaix.
A key fifth stage will be played out over the cobbles of northern France; it is one which is unlikely to decide the Tour winner, but it could end a contender's chances.
Wiggins proved what he can do when he is focused on a target and it is his mindset which could determine his selection.
Brailsford, who was in California with Wiggins, said: "He delivered when it mattered with a truly world-class time-trial performance. He handled himself well in the mountains.
"He was a great ambassador for our push into America. I think he did a brilliant job and I think he deserves a lot of credit for it."
Like Wiggins, many others will be sweating over their selection, including Rotherham's Ben Swift, who will be eager to be part of a race which begins in his home county, while Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh have impressed in recent Tours and would like to do so once again.
Thomas is out of contract at the end of the year and attracting admirers from other teams.
Brailsford believes Team Sky can help Thomas fulfil his ambitions.
"I'm very confident that Geraint's future lies with Team Sky and we'd like to think that he'll be given the opportunities he deserves," Brailsford said.
"We do believe he's got a lot of progression still to achieve. Exciting time for Geraint and an exciting time for Team Sky."