Wiggins said today it was highly unlikely he will be part of Team Sky’s bid to win the coveted yellow jersey for the third year in a row. That honour has passed once again to last year’s winner, Chris Froome. In an interview with BBC Radio Five Live, Wiggins said: “As it stands, I won’t be there. The team is focused around Chris Froome.”
He admitted: “If I want to go back to the Tour, I might have to start accepting the reality that I have to change teams.”
Signs that Wiggins – who won the yellow jersey back in 2012 – was going to be left out of the Tour de France team were first seen last week when Froome was picked for the Criterium du Dauphiné, with Wiggins heading for the Tour de Suisse. The Criterium du Dauphiné has long been used by Sky as their Tour de France ‘warm up’.
When Wiggins’ name didn’t appear on the team sheet, rumours quickly began to circulate that he would be dropped from Tour de France starting line-up. Sky has yet to officially announce their Tour de France team, but with Wiggins’ interview this morning, and Froome leading the Criterim de Dauphiné charge, observers think that the white smoke has now been seen from the Sky team bus. Froome is the chosen one.
No doubt all eyes will be on Froome and Wiggins at their respective races in the next few weeks. Any team line up for the Tour de France would change if Froome picks up an injury at the Criterum du Dauphiné, which starts this Sunday.
Social media lit up with speculation about the reasons behind the selection, with angry fans pointing out that Wiggins was a key reason that cycling had become so popular in Britain, the country in which the Tour de France 2014 will have its Grand Départ. Others have criticised Sky’s history of handling British cycling stars. Mark Cavendish left Sky in 2012, citing the team’s dogged pragmatism as a stifling environment to work in. He left on amicable enough terms with his former team mates, but had rather frosty things to say about the management. He moved on to Omega Pharm Quick-Step in 2013 and has found great success with the Belgium-based team.
The sport now waits to see if David Brailsford, known for his calculating and practical judgements, has a similar problem with a now rather dejected-sounding Bradley Wiggins?