Tour de France 2012: I am a team player for Sky, insists Chris Froome
CHRIS Froome has reiterated his primary role is to support Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins after moving second behind his Team Sky colleague in the overall rankings
Wiggins entered today's 226-kilometre 12th stage from Saint-Jean de Maurienne to Annonay-Davezieux having survived the toughest stage of the 99th Tour and a show of Froome's force which has created a possible dilemma for the British squad.
Froome appeared so strong in the finale of the 148km 11th stage from Albertville to La Toussuire that he had to wait for his leader in the yellow jersey.
The 27-year-old moved two minutes five seconds behind Wiggins into second place in the overall standings, ahead of defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), but his time gains could have been greater had he not halted an acceleration in the final 4km.
Froome said: "I'll follow orders at all costs. I'm part of a team and I have to do what the team asks me to do.
"Our plan is to look after Bradley. He's just as strong as me, I think, and stronger than me in the time-trial.
"I'm part of a team and I'll do what I need to do."
Froome's acceleration prompted immediate questions: was the attack planned? Who called Froome back? Was Wiggins unable to go with him? Or did he pull rank, believing the manoeuvre was unnecessary?
Wiggins suggested it was the latter.
"At that moment I was just really concentrating on my effort and keeping it constant," Wiggins said.
"I'd been riding for 1.5km, 2km before that. I just wanted to clear the lactate and didn't want to make any more of an acceleration.
"There was a lot of noise and a lot of things going on on the radio and a bit of confusion at that point as to what we were doing.
"I think he (Froome) showed today he had the legs, certainly. It was another great day for the team."
Team Sky sports director Sean Yates insisted the attack had not been planned and maintained Wiggins is leader.
"We want to try and win the Tour, we don't want to spin the roulette wheel," Yates said.
The stage was won by Pierre Rolland (Europcar), with Evans finishing 11th, conceding 1:28 to Froome to fall 3:19 behind Wiggins and down to fourth, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) third, 2:23 adrift.