Wiggins has put a spoke in the Team Sky wheels

2May 2013

Tour de France

 

Sir Bradley Wiggins has muddied the waters over who will be Team Sky's lead rider for the Tour de France. Ralph Ellis fears that will harm Chris Froome's chances, and won't help Wiggo's own hopes for the Giro d'Italia either...

 

Back in December we got asked by Betting.Betfair to do a quick review of 2012 and among other questions name our "hero of the year".

 

A couple of the other writers went for Bradley Wiggins, but for me the true sportsman of last summer was Chris Froome, the bloke who did most of the donkey work that took Wiggo up and down the mountains on the way to the Tour de France title. Froome probably could have won the event himself, but followed team orders to stay back and help the star of the show. Wiggins was knighted for his achievement, and will always be remembered by the greater public as the first Brit to win the Tour de France. Froome finished second but will forever be the quiz question that you know the answer to but can't quite bring to mind; a bit like the second man to walk on the moon.*

 

The payback was supposed to come this year. Team Sky promised Froome last summer that their resources would be fully behind him as the man to wear the yellow jersey in 2013. Already, however, the issue is getting clouded.

 

Wiggins has ruffled feathers by saying he plans to win the Giro d'Italia which starts this Saturday and then go on to defend his Tour title. It took Froome only a few hours after that came out to respond that: "I have made it clear that winning the Tour de France would be my main objective. I have been reassured by the management at Team Sky that I have their full backing and at no time has the leadership been in question."

 

On the face of it that means you can confidently back favourite Wiggins at 2.2 for the Giro d'Italia this weekend - before putting your winnings on favourite Froome at 2.54 to win the Tour de France. Personally I think it's a good reason to lay both bets. It will be tough enough for Froome to take on Alberto Contador 3.7 in July, without having to battle against his supposed team mate too.

 

As for the Giro, well my colleague Jack Houghton, who has probably forgotten far more about cycling than I'll ever know, has already set out the technical fears about the form Wiggins is in ahead of the first major event of the season. I think just as significant now could be the psychological issue.

 

Wiggins is going to get asked about this every day from the moment the bikes line up in Naples to when they roll into Breschia on May 26. It will be a constant distraction. Froome isn't riding in Italy, but his ghost will follow Wiggins through every turn of his pedals. That's a lot of energy to use in the wrong place.

 

It isn't just the riders who are at war - or have what Wiggins describes as "a professional working relationship". It is their WAGS too.  Froome's fiancée Michelle Cound told her near 10,000 Twitter followers: "Chris and Brad on the same start line, in the same kit? Mmm...doubt it."

 

British cycling was a byword last summer for superb organisation and professional planning. Everything done by Dave Brailsford and his team from the Tour at the start of the summer to the Olympic velodrome was plotted to perfection. But some 12 months on it looks like the two biggest stars are on collision course. I'm not sure either will end up in this year's list of heroes.

 

*Buzz Aldrin - and yes, I had to look it up too.

 

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Keywords: Tour de France, Wiggins, Team Sky

Source: Betfair

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