Sir Bradley Wiggins convinced Team Sky not to drop Chris Froome in 2011, the retired pro has revealed.
Britain’s first Tour de France winner Wiggins said team boss Sir Dave Brailsford approached him to say they were considering letting Froome go for the 2012 season.
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But Wiggins convinced the team to offer Froome a place, with the pair going onto take first and second in the 2012 Tour.
Wiggins was responding to recent comments by Froome, where the current Team Sky leader said he felt he couldn’t trust Wiggins in the 2012 Tour de France, after he had collapsed in the Vuelta a España the previous season.
Speaking on his podcast, The Bradley Wiggins Show by Eurosport, Wiggins said: “If Chris is being honest, he couldn’t scratch his arse before that point and found himself second in the Vuelta with a week to go.
“At the start of the race, Dave [Brailsford] came to me and said ‘I don’t think we’re going to sign him next year, what do you think Brad?’
“I said ‘well he’s proved himself in the team time trial, I think you should keep him, we know he’s got an engine and here he is now.’”
Froome recently revealed he felt he couldn’t trust Wiggins during the 2012 Tour, as Wiggins had lost the Vuelta in the final week just a few months earlier.
After Wiggins began to lose time in Spain, Froome was asked to take over the leadership and fight for victory.
Speaking to Nico Rosberg on the retired Formula One driver’s podcast Beyond Victory, Froome said this affected his thinking in the following Tour and that he considered attacking his leader.
Responding to his former team-mate’s comments, Wiggins said: “That’s Chris’ opinion.
“Maybe I wasn’t the best communicator. I’d had a couple of bad days at the Vuelta. I’d broken a collarbone six weeks earlier, I still had a plate in and I couldn’t really get out of the saddle and didn’t really expect to be in that position.”
He added: “We found ourselves second and third going into the last couple of days of the Vuelta and it was the point for him which leapt his career forward really and gave him the confidence to do what he did.
“But I’m not going to sit here and slag him off because I think he’s a great athlete, but that’s the world you’re in at that time, and I take responsibility for it.”
Wiggins pointed out that the year he won the Tour, he had also won Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, the Critérium du Dauphiné, and hadn’t lost a time trial during the run up.
Speculation about an internal struggle mounted during the 2012 Tour, fuelled by Froome appearing to attack Wiggins on La Toussuire during stage 11.
Froome was ordered back by the team and he followed the direction eventually finishing second, 3-21 down to Wiggins.
The following year, Froome won his first Tour.
Froome will return to the Tour this year as he strives for a record-equalling fifth title.
His 2018 attempt fell short, as the yellow jersey went to his team-mate Geraint Thomas.