Tour de France: Brailsford on 'British heart' and Wiggins call

Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford
Team Sky chief Sir Dave Brailsford has dismissed criticism that Team Sky is not championing British riders

Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford has said they remain British-focused and defended his decision not to select Sir Bradley Wiggins for the Tour de France.

Brailsford said last week that he would like a French Tour winner with Sky.

But he told 5 live's Sportsweek: "We're a British team with a British heart."

Defending champion Chris Froome crashing out prompted renewed debate on Wiggins' absenceexternal-link but Brailsford said Sky picked "the best team around Chris to optimise our chances of winning".

Chris Froome receives treatment after falling off his bike during the 2014 Tour de France
Defending champion Froome was forced out of the Tour after his third crash in two days

Former national team boss Brailsford, the mastermind behind Britain's Olympic cycling dominance in recent Games, said his comment about wanting to see a French Tour de France winner was in the same spirit as the desire to see a Briton win Wimbledon.

Andy Murray's triumph in 2013 ended a 77-year wait for a home Wimbledon champion, while it is 28 years since a Frenchman last won the Tour.

Brailsford, 50, told the BBC he was "the most patriotic guy you are ever going to meet".

And he added: "Let's not forget we came here with a British rider [Froome] to win this race. The whole essence of what we do is about British cycling."

Sir Bradley Wiggins sips champagne after his 2012 triumph
Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour with his victory in 2012

Froome's exit means Australian Richie Porte, 28 is now leading Team Sky's challenge for a hat-trick of Tour titles.

When asked whether he regretted the decision not to select 2012 winner Wiggins, 34, Brailsford responded: "We started out with the aim of trying to win this race and the rider in the best position to win this race clearly was Chris Froome."

Brailsford also backed Tasmanian Porte to make it three Team Sky wins in a row.

"I can't see that he can't win," added the Sky boss. "While we are in the hunt we will believe very much that he can."

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