Dave Brailsford, the Ineos team principal, has ploughed on through a cyclone of criticism to toast a seventh Tour de France win in eight years with Egan Bernals victory
On a corner of the Place de la Concorde on Sunday night Michal Kwiatkowski dropped his motorcycle, sat down on the cobblestones and tucked into hot pizza and cold beer.
The former world champion, also winner of the Milan-San Remo and the Amstel Gold Race, ran unnoticed as jubilant Colombian fans swarmed around the Ineos team’s bus and gazed adoringly at his teammate Egan Bernal as he waved from the top step of the rostrum on the Champs Elysees.
Watching on, the team’s billionaire owner, Jim Ratcliffe, could enjoy the first fruits of his PS40m investment in cycling, only four months after Team Ineos had been created. It had been a gamble worth taking.
Ratcliffe and the Ineos team principal, Dave Brailsford, are kindred spirits, both knights of the realm, both maligned by the media, both questioned by the establishment over their ethics and both pursued by an army of trolls and sceptics.
Brailsford has become the Houdini of cycling. Little more than a year ago, after a damning report by the DCMS openly questioned his credibility, his stock had fallen so low this newspaper described his promise to win the Tour de France clean as” an empty pledge “, while others called for his abdication and the revoking of his knighthood. Undaunted, he has ploughed on regardless. Brailsford now seems to accept that haters gonna hate, whether you win or lose.