Following months of speculation that threatened to destabilise Team Sky’s bid for a second consecutive Tour de France title before it had even begun, boss Sir Dave Brailsford has today confirmed that Chris Froome will lead their challenge in the French mountains.
It means last year’s winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins, will be relegated to a role as domestique, with the idea that he repays the hard work dedicated to his cause by teammate Froome in 2012.
After contradictory media posturings by both riders that suggested a growing edge to the choice of team leader, Brailsford has opted to put an end to the talk, saying:
“Given Chris’s step-up in performances this year, our plan, as it has been since January, is to have him lead the Tour de France team.”
Froome, who impressed alongside Wiggins last year and at times even seemed stronger on the climbs than his teammate, is the 5/4 favourite to win the 2013 Tour de France, with former winner Alberto Contador second favourite at 15/8.
Wiggins remains 10/1 third favourite, no doubt ready and primed should Froome suffer injury or fail to live up to expectations.
The 2012 Sports Personality of the Year is currently competing in another of cycling’s three Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, but made no secret of the fact that he intended to challenge in France, with the bold ambition of becoming the first rider to win both in the same year since Marco Pantani did so in 1998.
While an announcement on who would lead team Sky in the Tour’s 100th year was expected before it begins at the end of June, the timing of Brailsford’s clarification is a little surprising, given that Wiggins and Team Sky are attempting to focus on the Giro, lying second after three stages.
The man the French affectionately nickname Le Gentleman is unlikely to be impressed should he now be bombarded with questions about France while he concentrates on his exertions in Italy.
Wiggins is the favourite to add the Giro to his 2012 Tour de France win, narrowly ahead of the home favourite Vincenzo Nibali and last year’s winner Ryder Hesjedal.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.