Chris Froome (Team Sky) continued the build-up to his Tour de France defence with a recon of the opening two stages in Yorkshire. The British rider made the trip to Northern England with his teammates Richie Porte, David Lopez and Mikel Nieve.
The trio are almost certain to form part of the eight-man team that will support Froome in July, but the exact make-up of that team remains a contentious issue. “That’s going to come down to what is best for the team, who is going to do the best role, the dynamics of the team and everything around that,” Froome told the BBC.
The recent serialisation of Froome’s autobiography in the Times has re-ignited the topic of the rivalry between Froome and his teammate Bradley Wiggins. The pair have been due to ride together at a number of races this season, but injuries and plan changes mean that they haven’t ridden together since the World Championships last September.
Wiggins missed last year’s race and has been very vocal about his desire to make it into this year’s squad. The 34-year-old has been on fine form this season, winning the overall classification at the Tour of California. Froome was reluctant to discuss whether Wiggins’ form would send him into the race as a joint leader.
“I think talking about plan b that’s a decision the team needs to come to, but Bradley has been talking about playing a support role and not a plan b as such,” said Froome. “I think Richie Porte has really stepped up his condition, which is good at the moment. He’s certainly got the potential to be riding for the Tour de France podium.
Just under five weeks remain until Froome must defend his Tour de France title and the timing of his autobiography has been called into question. Froome denied that his intention was to fan the flames on the rivalry.
“I think I would have been criticized a lot for not having covered that topic in my autobiography. It was a big part of what happened in 2012 in the Tour de France. I think that, up until now, people have only seen Bradley’s version of events and what he’s put out there. For me, this was an opportunity to put out what I felt happened.
“I think we all need to remember that this is all stuff that happened back in 2012 and, even though it is being brought up now, it’s only because it’s in my autobiography. These issues, we’ve already put them to bed, we’ve talked about them and it’s in the past now.”