Thursday 29 September 2016

David Walsh: The Times is not a Team Sky mouth-piece, but article in question was daft

Published 22/07/2015 | 20:53

Team Sky rider Chris Froome , wearing the race leader's yellow jersey, cycles with team mates during the Tour de France
Team Sky rider Chris Froome , wearing the race leader's yellow jersey, cycles with team mates during the Tour de France

Journalist David Walsh has defended The Times' coverage of Team Sky and says that no other cycling team faces the same scrutiny as the English outfit.

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Walsh was responding to comments from fellow journalist Paul Kimmage who was critical of Team Sky general manager David Brailsford as well as The Times newspaper, which he described as the "official organ of Team Sky", adding that they "just take the party line".

Kimmage also said that question marks would remain over the achievements of Chris Froome until there was more transparency from his team.

"The context of this storm, and it has been a storm since Froome produced that extraordinary performance last week, is that all these guys are well trained, they all have dietitians on board. You see this massive difference now between what Froome is doing and what everyone else," he said.

Read more: Paul Kimmage: Tour de France leader Chris Froome would be well advised to invite questions

"Everybody else seems to be shattered from the race and Froome has retained this extraordinary freshness from the start, and you kind of wonder about that.

Team Sky rider Chris Froome, the race leader's yellow jersey,
Team Sky rider Chris Froome, the race leader's yellow jersey,

"How are they doing this?"

Speaking on Newstalk's Off The Ball programme tonight, Walsh admitted that the article referenced by Kimmage was "daft", but refuted allegations that the paper was in a cosy relationship with the cycling team.

"I think it's unfair to say that The Times has become the mouth-piece for Team Sky," he told listeners.

"The piece that Paul referred to - the Matthew Syed piece on Roger Palfreeman - was a daft piece in fairness. I don't know what Matthew Syed was trying to say or what the piece was trying to do but it didn't make a lot of sense to me so criticism of that piece is totally justified."

Read more: Paul Kimmage: Chris Froome could be one of the greatest riders of all time, but questions remain

"But I'm on the race here now and for the last few days Dave Brailsford has not been talking to Matt Dickinson, whose covering the race for The Times, because he didn't like Matt Dickinson writing about Peter Verbeken, who was a former US Postal soigneur."

Today Team Sky attempted to wrest back control of the PR agenda by releasing Froome’s performance data yesterday.

Walsh admitted that he "wouldn't have a clue about power wattage" and other metrics that have been used in analysing Froome's performance, but does have sympathy with the imbalanced focus on the current Tour leader.

"Chris Froome makes the point that the last five winners Grand Tours since he won one, haven't been subjected to anything like the scrutiny he has."

Read more: Tour de France performance speculation only a 'sideshow' says leader Chris Froome

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