When he accelerated on La Toussuire with four kilometres to go, Chris Froome left behind Bradley Wiggins, the rest of the group and, it appeared, team orders.

Twenty seconds later, he spoke into the race radio, slowed and the fragments drifted back together.

“They asked me to slow down,” Froome said after the finish, referring to Team Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates.

At the finish, Froome distanced Wiggins by a couple of seconds sprinting for the line in the final 300 metres.

He moved up to second overall, 2-05 on his compatriot. The day’s big loser was Cadel Evans, falling to fourth and 3-19 down.

Dislodging Evans
When Wiggins was asked whether the attack was planned and who called Froome back, he said: “I didn’t call him back, I didn’t have my radio in at that point, my piece had fallen out. But we talked about Chris maybe attacking in the final.”

“This morning we were planning on Cadel still being there and Chris maybe making the twenty-one seconds up [today] to move to second on GC because Chris wasn’t 100% confident he’d get the better of Cadel in the last time-trial. As long as I stayed with Vincenzo and those guys, that was the plan.”

Froome still following team orders
Questions fired at him in a finish line scrum, Chris Froome talked about sticking to team orders. “Our plan is to look after Bradley and I’m here to do that.”

When asked if he was frustrated, Froome said: “No, I follow orders at all costs. I’m part of the team and I have to do what the team asks me to do… Bradley is just as strong as me and stronger than me in the time-trials.”

“You realise you can win the Tour?” a journalist asked.

“… Maybe one day,” he replied.

“We feel you’re able to win the Tour,” another persisted moments later.

“Thanks for the compliment, but I think Bradley’s in a better position,” Froome said.

Wiggins: “Bit of confusion” at moment of attack
Asked in his post-race press conference what he felt at the moment Froome attacked, Wiggins said “I was really concentrating on my effort and keeping it constant, I’d been riding for two kilometres beforehand… I didn’t want to make any more of an acceleration but there was a lot of noise, a lot of things going on the radio and a bit of confusion at that point.”

“He showed today that he certainly had the legs. It was another great day for the team,” Wiggins added.

In one respect, it’s job done: Team Sky controlled attacks from Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali and a pair of British riders now occupy the top two positions in the Tour de France.

But while there’s no doubting Sky’s strength in depth, hints about internal conflict and questions about whether Sky are riding for the right man may linger on minds after Froome’s brief show of strength.

Related links

Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back

Froome wins on La Planche des Belles Filles

  • Mark Jones

    Wiggins has earned the respect of the team and Froome will have to do that if he expects them to put the same effort in for him. If you had a rider in first place who has been put under no pressure from the other GC riders so far then why would they switch to Froome. Also if Froome is not happy with his role at Sky then why didn’t he move to a team where he would be team leader.

  • adam

    KWC… many people may hear what you’re saying, (I persaonlly happen to believe Wiggins is clean, but that’s another story), but you need to do some homework if you’re bandying those sort of things around.

  • Guy

    Craig H. is right on the money.There is alot of thinking going on in order to win this tour.

    That’s why the poison pen brigade have emerged from their grubby little hovels.

    Just trust ‘Yatesy’ and David Brailsford to do the best for British Cycling.

  • ALAN H

    If Froome was a leader of another team with the same quality of riders as Wiggins team, it would be interesting to see who would come out top…….

    Wiggo has earned his place as leader and good to see that so far this is being respected, sorry to say that I think it will be hard for Brailsford to keep all his stars together next year.

    Two GB riders 1 and 2 who would have guessed that?

  • Robbie Sargent

    I really wish we (readers, journalists et al) could all just celebrate the fact that two Brits are leading the Tour and not focus on supposed in-fighting and assumed negatives. This is incredible stuff from the team as a whole, Wiggo and FroomeDog.

  • mcdowell

    team SKY: let Froome take the opportunity to win the tour. If the same stage 11 and GC standing arise again let your rider take the lead and drop the other (regardless if he hold the jersey),,,,,,,,,,

  • D Adams

    So let’s imagine that Sky arrive in Paris with the number one and two position: Will the whole team ride the front and lead out Cav including the Yellow Jersey????

  • Geoff Waters Durban South Africa

    Wiggins/Froome 2012 = Hinault/Lemond 1985. Lemond, riding on Hinault’s team, said at the time: ‘(Team manager) Koechli made me lose the Tour on the the day I could have won it!.’ The Sky’s not the limit, Chris!

  • `Lance Epollini

    I agree with Sam, journalists arent happy with the race unless it has controversy. I could never be interviewed by some of these idiots, I would get arrested.

  • KWC

    Is it me or is there something funny about the way Team Sky is performing? Lets think about it. First of all didn’t Froome have some type of bacteria this year? How many races did he complete this year? Oh that’s right just one. But he has the form to win the Tour de France. Give me a break… Lets move on further. Then we have Michael Rogers pulling Wiggins up to the LAST climb of the day. Really.. The last time I saw something like this was when US Postal would still have George on the last climb. Where has George been with other teams? I smell DOPE.. It’s also funny to hear Wiggins talk about how he is no shit rider. But has he ever won a three week tour or reached the podium? Who cares about holding hands with another guy going around a track..

  • bmxbandit

    Strange that anyone on this site should think they know better than the experienced riders and managers of arguably the most professional, organised and (soon to be) successful team around today.

  • Stepho

    Craig fast eddie and jd are all bang on! I’m heading off down to the Tourmalet on Sunday’s ferry, yippee. Watch out for the Cornish flag at 5k from the top.

  • fast eddie

    Froome was definitely a bit naughty today. Couldn’t help feeling for Cadel though.

  • JD

    This is just shit-stirring. It’s easier for Froome to attack because not only is he less marked than Wiggins but he’s behind him. Of course if Froome were to find himself in the lead, he’d then become the target and life would get more complicated.

    Still, a fine show by the Kenyan-Brit. If he can find a strong lieutenant, he looks like a Tour contender of the future.

  • Craig H

    Here’s what would have happened had Froome broke:

    Froome breaks, Nibali follows, Wiggins gets dropped, Cadel remains behind. At the line, Froome gains no time over Nibali, Brad loses time to Nibali – Yellow is now under greater threat as the time between Nibali and Wiggins closes. Effective gap between Wiggins and Cadel also not as large.

    As it was, the gap between Froome and Nibali remained the same, no change between Wiggins and Nibali, and a slightly improved gap between Wiggins and Cadel.

    Team Sky will take this approach all the way to Paris if they can – they will not change the plan just because someone deserves it, as it increases the risk should anything disastrous happen. For example, Froome breaks away on 17 and takes several GC’s with him, leaving Brad behind. Then, 5km from the line on 17, Froome crashes.

    Really, people need to look at the bigger picture.

  • Mick W

    Plan ” A ” seems to be working fine at the moment , with the added bonus of two guys in 1st and 2nd . Why risk disharmony in the Team when you`re in such a commanding position ? Chris Froome will undoubtedly get his chance in the future , but meanwhile Bradley should remain the sole leader.

  • Kathy

    It is a very difficult situation but Wiggins is the designated leader so he should be supported for the win. Froome is paying his dues as a domestique, he will get his reward sooner rather than later, I think. The real problem with Team Sky is Mark Cavendish. I believe it was a mistake for him to go to that team when they are primed to go for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. There is no way he can do the same as he did with HTC (I mourn their passing!), a dedicated team for Mark. He has one, maybe two guys to help him and they aren’t in tune with him yet. It’s a mess and I can see him feeling all patriotic and all with the Olympics coming up right after the Tour but he needs to go elsewhere to a team that wants a sprint champion and has a whole team dedicated to him. Andre is the lucky sprinter in 2012. Alas. I used to love to watch that big ole train whipping around the corners in the finale, peeling off one by one until it was just Mark and Mark. I miss that kit too. Everyone looks the same now, very dull. Ah well.

  • Sam

    Reporters are stirring things up saying Froome can win. It’s far more sensible for the team to back Wiggins. Wiggins has:
    1) a lot more race experience
    2) better time trialling ability
    3) equal ability in the mountains
    It is misleading for someone watching today’s stage as it makes Froome look stronger. However, to win a tour it involves far more than good legs in the mountains. Maybe Froome is better overall, but a tour is a long race and you need to follow logic and not explosive displays. It’s a game of many factors, not just legs. Froome could:
    1) not do so well in the following time trials
    2) make tactically worse decisions
    3) have misjudged his pace in the mountains and tire out later on

  • paul

    Another superb day for Sky, it seems clear they have the top two strongest riders.
    From a racing and fairness point of view I believe that if the race is as it stands, come the final climb NEXT Thursday, then – and only then, should team orders go out of the window.
    Froome deserves a chance to attack, especially as helping Wiggins probably cost him a Grand Tour victory last year.