Froome states Brailsford has told him he is the designated leader for the Tour
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Froome states Brailsford has told him he is the designated leader for the Tour

by VeloNation Press at 6:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
“It’s going to be very tough but I think I can win the Tour”

Chris FroomeExpressing surprise at recent statements from Bradley Wiggins that he will try to repeat his Tour de France win after all, Chris Froome has insisted that he has been told that he is Team Sky’s number one rider for the race and that he will continue to work on that basis.

The Kenya-born Englishman finished second to Wiggins in this year’s Tour, losing time against the clock but being stronger in the mountains and holding back. He appeared frustrated at times, and while a number of teams tried to entice him away from Sky, he renegotiated terms and decided to remain there.

He said that was on the understanding that he would get his chance at the helm in next year’s Tour, something which Wiggins’ most recent declarations have raised questions about.

“The team are saying they are going to back me with the Tour this year,” he told The Times. “That’s directly from Dave [Brailsford]. He said: ‘You’re our man for the Tour. Focus on it.’

At the Tour de France presentation in October, Wiggins appeared to be going along with that train of thought. “I will be at the start, that is for sure. If Chris is the leader, then we go for it,” he told Eurosport. “My priority will be the Tour of Italy.

“It has become apparent that it is very difficult to compete in two Grand Tours at that level, so it is more than likely that I will be there [at the Tour] in a helping capacity.”

However last week he had changed his tune somewhat dramatically. “As it stands I'm probably going to try and win a second Tour de France,” Wiggins told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I don't know, maybe we'll have two leaders. That’s more than likely, I guess. How that's going to work with the team I don't know…it's more Dave's problem, really.”

He then told The Guardian that he wanted to take the Giro/Tour double, something which was last achieved by Marco Pantani back in 1998.

The Froome/Wiggins situation appears somewhat reminiscent of the 1985/1986 scenario between Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault. The latter had won his fifth Tour in 1985, partially due to his team-mate LeMond holding back under team orders, and pledged to help the American win his first edition of the race the following year.

However his declaration of support ebbed away prior to the start of the race and once the 1986 edition got underway, it was clear that Hinault was trying to take a sixth title, his pledge to LeMond forgotten. The American ultimately triumphed, but the clash left a bitter taste and divided the team down the middle.

Froome will obviously hope a similar situation doesn’t happen. He admits that things have been less than straightforward recent. “It seems mixed messages,” he states, but confirms that he will remain completely zoned in on the French race. “I definitely am not going for the Giro [D’Italia],” he asserted. “I am already following a programme building for the Tour with that as my core focus.”

The 2013 Tour de France is more suited to a climber than this year’s race, and that is something which gives Froome encouragement that he could come out on top. “It plays to my strength very well. It’s very well suited to me, more than last year which was predominantly decided in the time-trials,” he said. “This coming Tour will be decided in the mountains, no doubt about that.”

Being a better climber than Wiggins, he will hope that will make it clear to Team Sky that he should be given his chance. Alberto Contador will likely be taking part in the race and with he and Andy Schleck likely to try to blow the race apart, Froome’s own climbing ability will be an important asset.

He’s aware that both those riders will be determined to reach the top step of the podium after missing the 2012 race, but believes that he can get the edge on them.

“It’s going to be very tough but I think I can win the Tour,” he stated, while accepting that he will need to be in very good shape. “The legs have to do all the talking when they hit those mountains.”

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