Alasdair Fotheringham: Sky have taken risk by discarding Tour de France expert Sir Bradley Wiggins

History is split on the wisdom of a team dropping one of their two top riders

cycling correspondent

In February, when Sky's Sir Dave Brailsford was asked about the rivalry between Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, he said it was no longer an issue. "Sorry," he told journalists, "but you've wrung that one dry."

The news that Wiggins will not be participating in the Tour de France, unless – he says – Froome falls injured at the last minute, makes it look as if their much-publicised reconciliation over the winter was a fragile one at best. Have Sky made the right decision in dropping one of their top two riders for the year's biggest race? History is split on the wisdom of the decision. Teams have previously raced with two former winners in their ranks, and the results have been mixed.

Five-time Tour champion Miguel Indurain's father once said his son would have won six had he not had to act as sherpa in 1990 for Pedro Delgado, who failed to take the title. Then in 2009, following a ferocious battle for Tour supremacy between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador – Astana team-mates and former Tour winners – Contador nonetheless won.

Either way, a final decision on Sky's Tour line-up has yet to be taken. If Froome fails to show similar condition to 2013 in the forthcoming Critérium du Dauphiné, a crucial pre-Tour test of form that he won last year, or if Wiggins smokes the rest of the field in the Tour de Suisse (his last pre-Tour race) then the pressure for the Londoner to gain a last-minute slot next month will surge again.

For now, though, Wiggins is out. In Harrogate on 5 July, the absence of Britain's first Tour winner – a hugely popular one – will be the elephant in the room. From the moment the Tour gets under way, though, it will be the results that provide the definitive verdict on whether Sky were right to leave him at home.

If Froome falls foul of the notoriously difficult and unpredictable cobbles of northern France on stage five, for example, that will weigh against Sky – particularly as Wiggins is unquestionably the most competent of all the Tour stars in such terrain. But should Froome remain in contention throughout the Tour, criticism will quickly wither.

We are in a similar scenario to the 1959 Tour de France, when Federico Bahamontes achieved Spain's first victory after his arch-rival Jesus Lorono was excluded by trainer Dalmacio Langarica from the Spanish team.

Lorono's supporters stoned the national coach's home and set fire to the Spanish federation headquarters; but three weeks later, with Bahamontes victorious, there was nothing but praise for Langarica's decision to centre the team on one rider. If Froome wins it will be a similar story in Paris this year.

But whoever stands in yellow on 27 July, for Wiggins this call is much more of a landmark than his exclusion from the 2013 Tour team. Last year, he was still injured and demoralised following his abandonment of the Giro d'Italia. This time round Wiggins has just comfortably won the Tour of California and performed remarkably well in Paris-Roubaix. He has also been more adamant this year that in the Tour he would have been racing exclusively for Froome.

In the long term, it makes Wiggins's presence at Team Sky increasingly complicated, particularly if he wants to race the Tour again. Where he goes from here – Orica-GreenEdge and F1 driver Fernando Alonso's new team have both been touted as alternatives to Sky – will be one of the big stories of the remainder of the season.

Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreEXCLUSIVE The Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor