Chris Froome flies to Paris today to begin the Tour de France’s final stage with his phone’s inbox empty. Not one message from Sky team-mate and last year’s winner, Bradley Wiggins.
He revealed yesterday after securing his title, “I haven’t heard from Bradley in the Tour.”
Wiggins is scheduled to return in the Tour of Poland (July 27August 3) and Tour of Britain (September 15-22) en route to the World Championship time trial. He has not raced since abandoning the Giro d’Italia mid-way in May in due to a chest infection and a sore knee.
Before and during the Giro, Wiggins and Froome crossed swords. Wiggins said that he would focus strictly on the Giro and help Froome in the Tour, but changed his mind when asked later. He explained prior to the Giro that if he won, he’d like to give the Giro/Tour double a crack.
Froome defended his right to lead the Sky Force in France and the team’s top brass stood behind him. Wiggins eventually abandoned the Giro so it became a moot point, as quiet as the phone lines between Froome and Sir Bradley.
“I’ve been in contact with Brad during the Tour. For sure,” Brailsford told Cycling Weekly yesterday in Annecy. “He’s good.”
After Froome stepped up, it may be hard on Wiggins to handle the inevitable team leadership questions at the Tour of Britain. With Froome on top of the cycling world and his Giro disappointment, Wiggins stands at a crossroads. Wiggins’ plan for 2014 is a mystery and more so, if it comes second to Froome’s programme.
“He merits all the accolades that he gets, he’s a fantastic athlete,” Brailsford continued.
“He’s got a programme through the Worlds. He’s obviously had an injury, he comes back now for the second half of the season and he’ll be brilliant. Then we’ll look at next year and where we go, but he’s a massive asset to have for anybody. We’ll want to make sure that he gets his opportunities and we race with him in the team in the future.”
Brailsford would not say if Wiggins would switch gears from Grand Tours to one-day and time trials. “People can speculate,” he added. “I’m not planning next year now at the Tour de France.”
Froome being Froome played it politically correct.
“I’d love to comeback and contend as long as I can,” Froome said yesterday.
“The decision is very much based on the parcours and how suited it is to me and my team-mates. I’d love to come back to the Tour every year but that decision has to be made based on the route and the team’s decision.”
All living Tour de France finishers, from lanterne rouge to maillot jaune, are invited in Paris this evening to celebrate the 100th edition. If Wiggins arrives, he will have his first chance to extend his hand and say “chapeau” to Froome.
Cycling Weekly will be covering the final stage of the 2013 Tour de France to Paris with live text updates and chat from around 5pm.