Chris Froome on the Tour de France: Free from 'pain in neck' after Bradley Wiggins' exit

Sky's lead rider says he is in fantastic form for the Tour and happy pecking order debate is over

Nice

Chris Froome believes the injury-enforced absence of Bradley Wiggins from the Tour de France leaves Team Sky with a "clarity" of leadership that will benefit their bid for another British yellow jersey, describing the frequently tense debate over which of the two riders would lead the race as a "pain in the neck".

Froome will lead Sky into the Tour, which begins in Corsica next week, as clear favourite to go one better than his second place to Wiggins last year. The 28-year-old Kenya-born Briton has insisted all year that he would be the team leader but Wiggins's regular and public querying of which rider would take precedence was only settled once and for all when the defending champion was ruled out of the race through injury. The two have not spoken since Wiggins returned home from last month's Giro d'Italia after illness and injury wrecked his main ambition for the season.

"I wouldn't say stressful but a bit of a pain in the neck to have to keep repeating myself," said Froome of the debate that has bounced back and forth since December. "I know a lot of people would have still been asking that leadership question aimed at me. So in that respect I think it's made both our lives a lot simpler.

"I think we've definitely got clarity in the team, that we all know what we're going there to do and what the goals are. We've got a really capable team going for yellow this year."

Froome said he felt sympathy for Wiggins not being able to take part in the 100th Tour as the champion but was quick to underline where he saw his team-mate had he been fit. "I wouldn't necessarily think that he would be defending his title as such, the course is so different this year. But we definitely are missing the element that he could have brought, the strength he could have brought to the team, to the team time trial. He could have been with us in the mountains to play that support role for me. That's definitely unfortunate.

"He wanted to focus on the Giro d'Italia this year – unfortunately that didn't go to plan. I'm sure he'll bounce back and be targeting other races for later on in the season. He knows what he's doing.

"Having Brad would have added a huge element to the strength, but I do believe we've got all our bases covered with the riders we do have."

Sky will announce their line-up later this week after a successful build-up culminated in victory for Froome at the Critérium du Dauphiné, his fourth of the season. It will include the Australian Richie Porte – earmarked for the role Froome played last year – as well as Pete Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas, Olympic gold winners on the track in 2012. Froome believes he will enter the race in prime form.

He said: "I feel as if I'm in fantastic condition coming into the last week. I'm happy with where I'm at, the numbers are there. I've got the backing of a fantastic team. I don't think at this point I could ask for too much more."

Sky are confident Wiggins, who is unlikely to attend the Tour, will race again this season, although he is still undergoing treatment on the knee problem that hampered him in Italy. He is expected to target the time trial at the world championship in Florence in September.

"Our focus with Brad is getting him ready to race again this season," said Tim Kerrison, who coaches both riders. "Brad's obviously very disappointed how the season has gone. But he's determined to reset his goals and turn things around. He's back training, he was in Majorca last week. He's back in the UK now. He came back to get some treatment on his knee and he's back out training today working towards the goals we are putting in place for this season."

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Charlotte Brontë, the English novelist, poet and the eldest of the three Bronte sisters who lived into adulthood, has been celebrated with a Google Doodle depicting her most famous novel, Jane Eyre.
arts + ents "Reader, they doodled her".

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players