Froome red-hot favorite in Wiggins absence, says Sutton

Wiggins needs inspiration to overcome setbacks

With the injury of defending Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky will head into July with one team leader, Chris Froome, and according to Team Principal Shane Sutton, the loss of Wiggins weakens the team, but the lack of the intra-team competition of last year will benefit Froome.

It was announced this week that a lingering knee issue and the illness Wiggins got in the Giro d'Italia have prevented him from training properly for the Tour.

"Team Sky will be weakened but I'm sure Froomey will be breathing a lot easier. It takes away that threat of your teammate actually beating you, and I think he'll be really up for it now," Sutton said to BBC Radio Five Live.

"Froome goes in as red-hot favorite to win the Tour and possibly the only guy that could have beaten him would have been Bradley."

The illness and injury will be a big setback for Wiggins, one Sutton thinks will require some inspiration and innovation for him to overcome.

"When you have a setback like this you need to take inspiration from others, so I'd cite Cadel Evans, who had a rough year last year but has come back to get on the podium of the Giro at 36," Sutton said to The Guardian. "Brad needs to set some goals as soon as possible, something to get him back on his bike. The best would probably be the Vuelta [a España] as preparation for the world championship individual time trial, which is a goal that has eluded him until now."

Sutton suggested that the banner 2012 year that Wiggins had, which included victories from Paris-Nice, through the Tour de France and onto the Olympic Games time trial, as well as his obligations outside the sport, may have taken their toll.

"It's like a sponge washing a car – he's been wrung dry. After last year, from Paris-Nice [in March] to the Olympic Games, the numbers he was hitting were incredible; and it wasn't only that, it was the way he went about it. There was a steeliness there, a toughness, so much appetite.

"Looking back to 2010, we went out and found a new venue for him to train but maybe that has run his course. The other thing to take into account is that he is a family man, with huge responsibilities there; maybe they should be with him more when he's away."

Skipping the Tour de France might in the end prove to be the event that inspires Wiggins to come back to top form. "As far as I'm concerned, he will watch the Tour [on television] and be absolutely sick that he's not there. That could be the spark that lights the blue touch paper. He's 33 but I don't believe he's finished. He just needs something to whet his palate."

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