Kelly video assessment of Wiggins vs Froome: ‘I would not like to be the director of Sky’
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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Kelly video assessment of Wiggins vs Froome: ‘I would not like to be the director of Sky’

by Shane Stokes at 9:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France, Video
 
‘It is going to be difficult to control Froome if he sees again that he is in a position where he could win the Tour’

Sean KellyHaving competed during the era when Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault had their infamous tussle over leadership in the 1986 Tour de France, Sean Kelly knows a possible repeat of that battle is brewing in advance of the Tour de France.

Defending champion Bradley Wiggins and last year’s runner-up Chris Froome have been making tense statements about leadership via the press and it seems that no love is lost between the two. Kelly believes that there could be a real headache for the team in July, with two ambitious leaders looking destined to clash over who gets to go for the yellow jersey.

“It is going to be an interesting one because last year within Sky, building up to the Tour, the months previous, it was all for Wiggins. They wanted to get Wiggins into position to win the Tour,” said Kelly. “Then suddenly Froome showed unbelievable form, was very impressive in the mountain stages. We did see Froome went on the attack on one occasion. The team orders were called out very, very quickly.

“So it is going to be real interesting this year because if it comes around to July and both of them are very much up there, I would not like to be the director of Sky…it is going to be difficult to control Froome if he sees again that he is in a position where it is possible to win the Tour.

“If Wiggins is really in a good position and the team want to get everybody around him, it could be a bit of a difficult situation for Team Sky.”



Kelly’s comments were made in a video interview conducted earlier this year but are once again very relevant in light of recent statements between Wiggins and Froome on the subject.

Earlier this week Wiggins confirmed that the Tour de France was a major focus for him, and that he was psyched by the thoughts of doing the Giro/Tour double.

“The challenge this year, as I’ve said all along, is the Giro/Tour double really, and being in as good a shape as possible coming into the Tour,” he confirmed.

Wiggins’ statements on the subject of goals for the Tour de France have oscillated continuously in recent months. At the Tour de France presentation last October he said that the Giro d’Italia would be his main focus and that while he would ride the Tour, he would most likely do so to help Froome.

“I will be at the start, that is for sure. If Chris is the leader, then we go for it,” he told Eurosport then. “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 in a helping capacity.”

Froome has repeatedly said that he had been given assurances that he would be the team captain for the Tour, and Wiggins’ statement at the Tour presentation appeared to back that up.

However by December, the older rider’s position had changed. “As it stands I'm probably going to try and win a second Tour de France, so I don't know, maybe we'll have two leaders,” Wiggins told BBC Radio 5 Live. “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 [Dave Brailsford, team principal] problem, really.”

Since then he has given out mixed messages, with some interviews confirming an intention to try to win the Tour, and others suggesting that Froome would be given support.

However as the final countdown to the Giro continues, he appears to have made his mind up. “The Tour de France is my focus,” Wiggins told the BBC. “It's just that I'm doing the Giro before."

Unsurprisingly, Froome was not impressed. “I have been reassured by the management at Team Sky that I have their full backing,” he said in a statement released on Monday, hours after Wiggins’ statements to the press.

“At no time has the leadership of the Tour team been in question. 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.”

He added that winning the Tour would require ‘total commitment from each and every team member,’ and that he believed that ‘the strongest and most willing riders will be there to support me.’

Asked as to why Wiggins has given mixed messages since last year’s race, Kelly gave a couple of possibilities. “I think it is to play with the opposition, first of all. Also to get the journalists off his back as such,” he said, suggesting that Wiggins would face a barrage of questions about whether or not he can win the race again.

The Briton will today line out in the team time trial at the Giro d’Italia and knows that a strong performance could give him a big advantage over his GC rivals. As noted, though, he has an incentive either way to try to win another Tour; if he does succeed in his goal of taking the Giro title, that would set up him with a chance of being the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to take both races in the same season.

If his Giro ambitions are not successful, winning the Tour de France would be a way of making up for that.

Kelly notes in the interview above that this year’s Tour route doesn’t suit Wiggins’ characteristics as much as the 2012 edition did. He adds though that after winning the race once, the Sky rider would have the confidence to do so again and would have serious motivation to clock up his second title.

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