Chris Froome has reiterated that he will be Team Sky's leader for the Tour de France despite claims from Bradley Wiggins that any decision on leadership will only be made a few days before the race or even during the mountain stages.
Tension between the two riders in the team first emerged during last year's Tour de France, when Froome attacked in the Pyrenees despite being told to ride for Wiggins. Since then the two have endured a frosty relationship and have only ridden together at the Tour of Oman.
Froome dominated the Tour de Romandie last week, while Wiggins has been preparing for the Giro d'Italia. Speaking to the media on Monday, Wiggins insisted he is targeting a Giro-Tour double.
"The Tour de France is my focus, it's just that I'm doing the Giro before," Wiggins said.
"It may be that we both stay in contention until that week, Chris wins the mountain stage, takes the yellow jersey in which case there is a natural hierarchy there and then I try and finish second as he did last year. That may not happen — there may be a clear-cut leader before you get there. We will see.”
Froome bit back by issuing a personal statement.
“I have been reassured by the management at Team Sky that I have their full backing. At no time has the leadership of the Tour team been in question," it reads.
“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."
Froome claims that the strongest riders in the Team Sky squad will support him in his bid to win the Tour de France.
“Attempting to win the Tour de France, is a massive undertaking, and will take total commitment from each and every team member. The Tour team has yet to be selected but with the depth of talent that we have at Team Sky, I have no doubt that the strongest and most willing riders will be there to support me.”
According to the BBC, Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said he 'relished' having to make a decision on team leadership for July.