Don't blame me for Bradley Wiggins' Tour snub, insists Chris Froome
You could forgive Chris Froome for feeling some tension in his whippet-thin shoulders as the Tour de France looms large on the Yorkshire horizon.
With the first stage running from Leeds to Harrogate on Saturday, the man on whom Team Sky's hopes of winning a third consecutive Tour rest has endured a difficult year after the dream season he enjoyed in 2013.
Having suffered a back injury, a chest infection and an emergency treatment with corticosteroids that plunged both Sky and the UCI into hot water, he then crashed heavily during the Dauphiné Libéré last month.
But the Team Sky leader and defending champion remains as unflappable as ever.
"I'm more or less recovered," he said yesterday. "It definitely was a knock to me. It did take me a while to start feeling normal again on a bike after that crash. I'm confident that's behind me now."
As well as the pain of the crash and agony of the doping accusations that have dogged Froome through the spring, there is the spectre of Bradley Wiggins.
It was widely believed that Wiggins' absence from Sky's Tour squad was down to the mutual distrust that exists between him and Froome, but the Kenyan-born Briton insists this is not the case.
"Just to make it absolutely clear, I do not have a role in selection," he said. "I do speak to Dave Brailsford (Team Sky's general manager) generally about the group of guys I've been racing with. But guys doing a Tour will be doing altitude camps together really quite early in the season."
Then came the news of South African Daryl Impey's failed drugs test for the masking agent Probenecid. "It was quite shocking to have the news about Daryl, someone I know really well; he's been a team-mate with me on Barloworld," he said.
Ominously for his rivals, all these setbacks appear to have had little effect on Froome, who says he will be "that bit fresher" come the decisive final week of the Tour. (© Independent News Service)
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