Sir Bradley Wiggins' absence leaves the path clear for Chris Froome to win the Tour de France

The chances of a second British winner in as many years may have been boosted by today's announcement

That’s that, no Sir Brad to defend his historic Tour de France victory. As I type, colleagues in the Independent’s newsroom who I’m sure never used to be interested in cycling are discussing the implications of Wiggins’ withdrawal as if they’d learned Wayne Rooney had broken a metatarsal on the eve of the World Cup.

I exaggerate, but we have our knight in shining Lycra to thank for propelling cycling into the mainstream, making his absence from the Tour due to a knee injury a big blow for British sport.

Team Sky expressed their sadness, too, although the champion’s absence should clear the path for Chris Froome, his teammate and runner-up in last year’s Tour. Competition for the leader’s spot has been occasionally fraught, at one point leading to a barbed exchange between the riders’ wives. Conspiracy theorists will wonder about the potential convenience of Wiggins’ exit.

Whatever, I’ll miss following Wiggins when the Tour starts on 29 June. For Sky and the peloton of sponsors around Sir Bradley, his injury is bad news. But if it in any way boosts the chances that Froome will ride to a second British Tour victory in a row, there’ll be just as good a reason to tune in.

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