Their leader is wearing the yellow jersey as the 2013 Tour de France returns after yesterday’s rest day, but Team Sky have much to work on if Chris Froome is going to keep the maillot jaune.
A stunning attack in Saturday’s first Pyrenees stage saw Froome storm clear of his main GC rivals, but just one day later he was left isolated as his team crumbled on the first of five climbs during stage nine.
The Kenyan-born Brit rose to the challenge and remains 1’25” clear of second-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), but Sky chief Sir Dave Brailsford is under no illusions about the challenge ahead.
“There are some valuable lessons to be learned that we will take into the rest of the race,” he told reporters yesterday.
“You learn more from adversity than success, and we have learned a lot.”
But with the British Cycling supremo remaining tight-lipped about what these changes will entail, what can we expect to see from Team Sky when the Tour returns to action today?
Well there will be no repeat of Sunday’s events – that is for sure.
With a flat stage awaiting, Froome will not be challenging for stage victory – although team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen might fancy his chances after a couple of near-misses last week.
However, Sky have coped well with the flat stages, and with Geraint Thomas continuing to show an amazing recovery from his fractured pelvis, the Welshman will have a key support role to play.
Barring any crashes, Sky will be confident of driving the peloton and keeping Froome handily-placed atop the general classification.
Froome will also fancy his chances in the individual time trial tomorrow, with an Olympic bronze medal testament to his ability in the discipline.
His rivals will not be giving Froome an easy ride however, with today’s flat stage littered with punchy, category four climbs.
The terrain looks perfect for Valverde and shouldTeam Sky falter, Movistar are likely to seize their chance.
They have already shown their attacking intent with Nairo Quintana going clear during stage eight on Saturday, and mounting repeated attacks in their bid to drop Froome the following day.
It is the sort of stage where a breakaway could succeed, and if a GC contender like Quintana or even Valverde were to attack off the front, the pressure would be on for Sky to respond in the peloton.
Saxo-Tinkoff are also well-placed to start taking chunks out of Froome’s lead, with Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger just 1’51” back.
They need not attack during the flat stages, but Contador is capable of producing a good time trial tomorrow.
Furthermore, both he and Kreuziger will be well supported by Michael Rogers and Nicolas Roche when the Tour returns to the mountains for a punishing final week.
On Saturday evening, Froome was already being declared the obvious winner of the centenary Tour, but just one day later the full cost of his team’s exertions during stage eight became clear.
Sir Dave Brailsford insists they will learn lessons, but should they fail to do so, Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff will go all out to punish them, as this enthralling Tour continues into its second week.