Wiggins made his intentions clear at a press conference in Wigan today before he travels to Italy and the start of the Giro d’Italia this weekend. Now his bid for a Tour de France defence post-Giro has thrown the topic of Tour leadership into doubt at Team Sky.
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Froome rode for Wiggins throughout last year’s Tour de France to devastating effect, and this year the team had said it would back Froome in his bid for the Tour title as Wiggins went for the Giro. Today, however, Wiggins said the double was always on his mind. “That’s always been what we have set out to do, from the start of the year, although whether I get the opportunity to do that as leader at the Tour remains to be seen,” Wiggins said.
“I don’t think it’s that confusing. We both want to win the Tour de France and we’re on different paths towards that. We will get to three days out from the race I imagine, in Corsica, and Dave will have to make a decision as to how to do this.”
Froome’s statement, released this evening, suggests he expects full support from the team, rather than a dual role. He said; “There has been much speculation regarding the leadership for Team Sky at the Tour de France this year. I have made it clear that winning the Tour would be my main objective for 2013.”
“I have been reassured by the management at Team Sky that I have their full backing and at no time has the leadership of the Tour team been in question. Attempting to win the Tour de France is a massive undertaking, and will take total commitment from each and every team member.”
“The Tour team has yet to be selected but with the depth of talent that we have at Team Sky, I have no doubt that the strongest and most willing riders will be there to support me.”
“Confidence is high in the camp following the success at the Tour of Romandy. This week I will be doing a recon of the Mont Ventoux summit finish which could be a critical stage of this years Tour de France. A group of us will be going to Tenerife next week to continue training at altitude in our build up to the Tour.”
Strong start to season for Froome
Froome has enjoyed considerable success this year, winning the Tour of Oman, the Criterium International and last week the Tour of Romandy – his first WorldTour stage race win. It’s a level of success similar to Wiggins’s last year when the Briton went on his sensational run of wins.
Throughout Wiggins’s winning streak in 2012 Froome was by his side. As part of the Tour climbing group the pair, along with Richie Porte, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Christian Knees raced together throughout the year, and regularly trained together at altitude on Tenerife.
At the 2012 Tour Froome often appeared the stronger climber, and on stage eleven to La Toussuire dropped Wiggins with a powerful attack before sitting up under orders from Sean Yates in the team car. Wiggins later admitted in his book My Time that the incident had unsettled him so much that he had considered leaving the race after the stage.
Wiggins is yet to win a race this season, but members of Team Sky say his training performances so far are an improvement on last year and his coach Tim Kerrison believes he has the capacity to ride both Grand Tours at or near a level needed to win them. He has also followed a different race programme this year, taking in more summit finishes and fewer time trials as he builds towards the Giro.