As the Tour de France heads towards the Pyrenees, Sky is cooling speculation that Chris Froome might take the team’s lead.
Froome sits 2-05 minutes behind team-mate and overall race leader Bradley Wiggins, but a precarious 18 seconds ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) in third overall. Sky could allow him a certain freedom to gain time on Nibali and strengthen his second place. The plan would also allow him to carry the yellow jersey comfortably if Wiggins suffered from a crash.
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“You don’t want be greedy and jeopardise [what you have],” Sky team principal David Brailsford said. “Our aim is to win this race, we’ve said that all along. If we could add on to that, that’s all well and good, but first things first.”
Wiggins dominated ahead of the Tour. He became the first cyclist to win all three stage races – Paris-Nice, Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné – in one season.
Froome suffered early in the season, but rebounded in the Tour. He appears to be the Tour’s strongest climber and able to ride away from Wiggins. In the key Alpine stage to La Toussuire, Froome attacked four kilometres out and for an instant, seemed to be riding clear of Wiggins. He showed the same strength in the mountain stage to La Planche des Belles Filles, jumping ahead on the last ramp and winning.
His strength seems to have shaken Sky’s hierarchy. Cycling Weekly asked sports director, Sean Yates yesterday about the moment on La Toussuire when Froome seemed ready to move free.
“Everything okay, that’s all to say,” Yates said. “Obviously, there was a bit of a moment, but nothing goes perfectly to plan.”
Froome’s losses come from a puncture in the first stage, 1-25 minutes, and the time trial to Besançon, 35 seconds.
“At the end of the day, circumstances have dictated that Bradley has 1-30 minutes. It’s not always necessarily the best man wins, the best man could lose five minutes like [Alberto] Contador did last year. You could argue he was the best man and didn’t win,” sports director, Sean Yates said.
“Circumstances change events. Circumstances sometimes dictate that not necessarily the best man wins, but you have to play to your strengths and weaknesses.”
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