independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Cycling: Wiggins insists he will follow team orders for Tour de France

Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL Arena, London. Photo: PA

BRADLEY Wiggins is ready to accept whatever decision Team Sky make over their leader for next year's Tour de France.

Wiggins this year became the first British winner of cycling's biggest event but the announcement of next year's mountainous route appeared to play more to the strengths of Froome, Wiggins' back-up this year.







Froome himself told today's Times: "The team are saying they are going to back me with the Tour this year. That's directly from Dave (Brailsford). He said: 'You're our man for the Tour. Focus on it.'"







But team leader Brailsford has been more equivocal over the issue in recent days, opening up the possibility of Wiggins defending his title.







Wiggins, who followed up his Tour triumph with a gold medal in the London 2012 Olympic time trial and on Sunday was named as the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, told Sky Sports News: "The last four years, all the focus has been on the Tour de France for me, trying to win that race. Fortunately I did it this year, then it's deciding what to do next.







"The Tour of Italy is something I'd love to win, in cycling terms it's just as big as the Tour for me, but also going back as defending champion next year to try to win a second Tour de France.







"We're very fortunate that we have two people that can win the Tour de France. Having two people equally as strong, trying to beat the likes of (Alberto) Contador and Andy Schleck, is going to work in our favour.







"It could be any one of us, it could be Chris Froome on the day, it could be me, but once we get on that line we all have a professional obligation. We saw this year what Chris did for me, it could be that I'll be doing that for him next year for the team to win."







Brailsford has shown in the past that he is prepared to make big selection decisions, overlooking defending champion Sir Chris Hoy for this summer's Olympic sprint event in favour of Jason Kenny, who won the gold medal in London.







Wiggins, 32, expects his team to go into the Tour with a clear idea of their leader but accepts not every eventuality can be accounted for in advance.







"You go out there with a plan," he said. "That plan may change during the race depending on crashes, illnesses or form, but you certainly start out with a gameplan and follow that gameplan as much as possible.







"If that's Chris Froome then the whole eight riders will commit to Chris.







"But we saw a couple of years ago, once I crashed out the team was left without anything to do, really, because all our eggs were put into the basket of me.







"This year, had I crashed out in that first week, we always had a back-up plan with Chris Froome. It always helps to have strength in numbers, it's a nice problem to have.







"So much is made of the negative aspects of having two leaders who could potentially win, but very little has been said about the positive side. We finished one and two this year, so it's always a nice problem to have."







Meanwhile, Team Sky have today confirmed the signing of 20-year-old British rider Josh Edmondson to a two-year contract.







The Yorkshireman said: "I see myself as a climbing specialist but my main aim with Team Sky is to develop my tour riding and get used to competing alongside the best riders in the world."







It was announced last week that the 2014 Tour will begin in Edmondson's native county.

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