Just over the road from where the Manchester
City coach works, just beyond the huge hoardings celebrating the
development of the club’s sparkling new training complex, is the home of
unquestionably Britain’s foremost sporting outfit. Mancini paid a visit to
the National Cycling Centre, a place where gold medals are forged.
He had come to meet Dave Brailsford, the presiding genius of Team Sky and the
British cycling team, the man who delivered the first British victory in the
Tour de France. Mancini was hoping, he said, to learn how the really
successful go about their business, to see if there was anything in their
extensive preparations he could borrow.
“Cyclists work very, very hard,” Mancini said, as riders whizzed round the
velodrome track behind him, flat out on a training ride. “More than us.
Sometimes we need to work harder. You can win only if you work hard. I have
a lot of respect for these guys because from the very first moment that I
sat on a bike I realised how hard you have to work to be good at it.
Sometimes I think that it’s just impossible that these guys stay on these
bikes for three or four hours. I can’t believe that. They do this every day.”
He is a keen rider himself – “of course, I am Italian” – and can often been
seen arriving in Lycra at City’s training base in Carrington, having cycled
from his home in Alderley Edge some 10 miles away. “I bike when the sun
shines. So never in Manchester,” he smiled. “No, three, four times a week.”
Brailsford gave Mancini a guided tour of the velodrome and the new facilities
blooming around it, introducing him to Olympic champions such as Ed Clancy,
Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes. He met the Team Sky performance analysts,
medics and coaches who make up the operation’s extensive back room staff.
Mancini was impressed.