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Robert Millar: Team Sky must get their confidence back

By:
Robert Millar
Published:
July 10, 2014, 10:15 BST,
Updated:
July 10, 2014, 10:19 BST
Race:
Tour de France

How Froome's departure changes the race dynamic

Robert Millar in the Tour de France

Robert Millar in the Tour de France

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The decision to discount Bradley Wiggins from the Team Sky selection that was taken by Dave Brailsford three weeks ago isn't looking too smart this morning. He can take some solace that even the great manager's get it wrong , look at the position Brazil's Scolari finds himself in after the World Cup drubbing from the Germans but all the same there'll be lots of #toldyouso on Twitter for the next few days.

Of course it's not as easy as saying Wiggins would have had any better luck than Chris Froome had, and there's the nag that 2012 Tour de France winner doesn't like the rain either but you can't help think a stronger plan B of sorts might have been a wiser choice given the carnage of stage five. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Abandoning the Tour de France isn't a decision taken lightly by any rider. There are frequently tears involved because it means so much and when you're sitting in the team car you naturally start to wonder if you might have continued, maybe it wasn't that bad, maybe you ought to have been harder. Then you move the offending body part and the pain instantly reminds you that you had no choice. You might cry a bit more then.

So what now for Sky? Stage hunting or look after Richie Porte and hope he steps up. First they have to regroup, re-assess and get some confidence back from the disaster that has befallen them. It's not an easy thing to do when everyone came to do a job and then it all starts to go wrong. They can take heart from Porte who with the help of Geraint Thomas saw off Garmin's Talansky on the last cobbled section and put time into Contador and Valverde. But it's almost two minutes to Nibali and the Italian champion along with his Astana team is looking remarkably strong.

The Spaniards will be thankful they came out the day relatively unscathed health wise and still in the game, but psychologically they'll be wounded. However if they can stay safe and recover from the nightmare of the cobbles they might be back.

Chris Froome didn't have the luck that you sometimes need to survive and now that he's out that changes the tactics for everyone. One person’s misfortune can be another’s chance and now the Tour opens up as an opportunity for riders like Talansky, Van den Broecke and Pierre Rolland to show what they can do.

With Sky no longer needing to do the familiar high tempo pace setting on the mountain stages it'll be up to Astana to control the race and with a team of climbers at his disposal Contador is in a better position even though he lost time on the cobbles to most of his rivals. I'm sure he considers his chances improved against the remaining GC contenders in the long time trial at the end of the race now that Froome has gone. It's still a long way to the Alps and Pyrenees and there's plenty of kilometres for the Kazakh squad to be worn down by the pressure of defending the yellow jersey so the first skirmishes in the Vosges mountains heading towards the rest day will be interesting.

The Spanish aren't in such close contention that Nibali needs to panic if he has to let Valverde or Contador take back some time and he can afford to bluff in the medium mountains and then murder them all at La Planche des Belles Filles. Until then Astana can manage the situation with relative serenity.

As for Chris Froome, it wasn't what he was hoping for and you can only wish him and everyone else who fell a speedy recovery.
 

Author
Robert Millar

Robert Millar was one of the last pure climbers of the Tour de France, winning several stages in the mountain stages and finishing fourth overall in 1984. He is also the only English speaker to have ever won the prestigious polka-dot jersey climber's competition jersey. Millar retired in 1995 but has continued to follow the sport closely. He was often critical of the media and quickly cuts through the excuses and spin to understand why and how riders win and lose.

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