PrintPrint

Wiggins set to play backup to Froome at Tour de France

The Canadian Press

5/6/2013 9:58:02 AM

MANCHESTER, England -- Bradley Wiggins' chances of retaining his Tour de France title receded on Monday when teammate Chris Froome was named as Team Sky's leader for cycling's biggest race.

Team principal Dave Brailsford ended months of speculation by saying the British-based outfit would stick to the plan set out at the start of the year, leaving Wiggins to play second fiddle to his compatriot when the Tour begins on June 29.

"As always, the team selection is a management decision and it will be evidence-based," Brailsford said. "However it is crucial there is clarity of purpose and for that reason we will go to the Tour with one leader.

"Taking that into consideration and given Chris' step up in performances this year, our plan, as it has been since January, is to have him lead the Tour de France team."

Wiggins, the Olympic time-trial champion, had left Team Sky in an awkward position last week when he said he was hoping to pull off a rare Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double this year, despite Froome having long been lined up to be the team's No. 1 at the Tour after finishing runner-up in 2012.

Froome reacted the same day by saying he had been "reassured by the management ... that I have their full backing" as Team Sky's leader for the Tour.

Froome is widely considered a better climber and has powered to overall victories at the Tour of Oman, Criterium International and Tour de Romandie this season.

"We're in a fantastic position -- we have two of the best G (general classification) riders in the world and they are both great racers with a competitive will to win," Brailsford said.

"Since the start of the season, Bradley's performance plan has focused around training specifically to try and win the Giro and then ride the Tour, whilst Chris' has been focused on attempting to win the Tour."

The Giro started on Saturday, with Wiggins helping Team Sky win the team time trial on Sunday.