Some time between now and the start of the Tour de France Chris Froome (Team Sky) may reach the point where he welcomes a question about doping as a form of light relief from the furore surrounding his relationship with Bradley Wiggins’ and his chances of being part of Froome's Tour de France squad.
Froome had just scorched through the opening time trial in the Criterium du Dauphine, scattering his opposition and putting vital morale boosting seconds into both Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali in a 10.4km test through the streets of Lyon. In his post-winner’s press conference there were the initial questions surrounding the Team Sky rider’s form and his thoughts on whether he and his team would defend the leader’s jersey but it wasn’t long before the topic of Wiggins raised its head.
“Chris, did you hear about the news, that Bradley Wiggins decided not to go do the Tour, and how do you think it will affect your team,” a journalist provocatively asked.
The cycling world is still reverberating with the aftershocks of the news that Wiggins probably won't ride the Tour de France after he said as much on the BBC – Sky’s broadcasting rivals no less – revealing that he would have his feet up in July as he watched the Tour on television.
Team Sky has taken stock and Dave Brailsford moved to calm the waters, telling The Sunday Times that only he and the team’s management would resolve the make up of Team Sky’s final nine and that no final decisions had yet been made.
Yet Wiggins has no rivalry with Froome and it’s not Brailsford who sat before the media in Lyon. Despite that, there was a similar mantra running through Froome’s responses on the subject.
“For now my focus is on the Dauphine and getting through that as best as I can. His [Wiggins’] focus is on the Tour de Suisse but the Tour de France team has definitely not been selected. It’s not something that’s going to be selected between the riders. It’s a management decision as to what’s the best team going into the Tour,” Froome said.
When asked by Cyclingnews whether he wanted Wiggins at the Tour and exactly what sort of say he had in the Tour selection, Froome remained on message, if a little briefer with his reply.
“Again, my focus is on the Dauphine. We can talk about the Tour afterwards.”
Staying in yellow all week
And that was that. Back to talking about the race’s opening act, core strengthening exercises conducted in the spring and a variation of race programmes. This evening though Froome will do what he does best in some ways: put aside ‘what ifs’ and concentrate on the Dauphine. An important win today will not be lost on him or his rivals who will all be concentrating on the final tune up ahead of the Tour de France.
“I don’t know how much we can take away from a ten kilometre prologue but it’s definitely a bit of a surprise to be in the yellow jersey,” Froome said of his performance.
“I wasn’t really expecting to win the race. It’s a really good result for us and it confirms that I’m in condition and looking at my teammates they’ve ridden well too. It goes to show that we have a strong team here,” he added.
Keeping yellow for an entire week is certainly an option Team Sky may entertain.
“It’s hard to say. I didn’t expect to be in yellow after today but it’s a great position to be in as I don’t have to make up time on my main GC rivals. I think we’re going to have to sit down tonight and work out the best way forward but it’s going to be a hard-week of racing.”