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In an interview with the Times, Brailsford said he began feeling symptoms in February and was diagnosed around the Giro d’Italia. He then underwent treatment and a five-hour surgery in August to remove his prostate.
The operation kept him in the hospital for five days.
“There’s bound to be fear,” Brailsford told the Times. “It’s the great unknown.”
Brailsford told the Times that his initial diagnosis in February came after he battled chronic fatigue, and after following a doctor’s suggestion he underwent an MRI scan. The scan revealed a tumor. Brailsford then underwent a biopsy shortly before the Tour de France, which revealed he likely had prostate cancer.
“I’m thinking ‘this is just a hassle. I’m too busy,'” Brailsford said “Luckily I have a brilliant doctor who put his foot down.”
Brailsford said he endured a range of emotions after the cancer diagnosis, including confusion and angry. Talking with his team, he said, helped him navigate the frustrating time.
“I think I’m resilient, tough, but in hospital one day I was overwhelmed, to be honest. It’s easy to think ‘why is it happening to me?'” he said. “I’ve worked hard on my health so you can get bitter, angry, frustrated. I had to learn to accept it. Talking about it among the team was a massive help.”
Brailsford helped launch Team Sky in 2010 after serving as the performance director of British Cycling, and in 2008 he led the national squad to eight medals at the Beijing Olympics. He officially left British Cycling in 2014 to focus squarely on Team Sky.
Under his leadership, Sky/Ineos won six Tour de France titles, most recently in 2019 with star rider Egan Bernal.
A longtime rider himself, Brailsford said in a recent social media post that the cancer has kept him from riding. Instead, he has been walking for exercise.
“So I can’t sit on a bike yet nor lift anything nor fly but I can walk,” Brailsford wrote. “So I set myself a few targets and rather than sitting on a bike for a few hours most days I’ve had to accept walking a few hours instead – but keeps me moving, enjoy the countryside, time to think.”
Brailsford said he plans to return to overseeing Team Ineos soon.