Tour de France 2014: Chris Froome claims Sir Bradley Wiggins was 'mentally weak' during 2012 win


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The Independent Online

The rift between Chris Froome, the reigning Tour de France champion, and his British Team Sky colleague Sir Bradley Wiggins has widened further after Froome claimed he saw signs of mental weakness in Wiggins during the latter's race to victory in the 2012 Tour.

Froome supported Wiggins in his win, but appeared to disobey orders when he pulled away on stage 11. He attacked the leaders but was called back when Wiggins struggled.

Froome, in an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, said: "He probably would argue he was on his limits physically but I felt it was more a mental thing, that he switched off when he saw me going." When asked if it was a sign of weakness, Froome, 29, said: "Yes, it was to an extent."

Wiggins, now 34, went on to become the first Briton to win the Tour de France, but considered quitting the race due to Froome's actions, which also led to a falling-out between the pair. They claim to have settled their differences ahead of this year's tour, with Wiggins stating that he will be happy to play a support role for his team-mate, but the comments from Froome are unlikely to have a positive effect on the team.

In that fateful stage in 2012, Froome, who finished the tour second before winning it himself last year, had dragged his team leader Wiggins up with Vincenzo Nibali and Jurgen van den Broeck and dropped main rival Cadel Evans in the process, when he decided to pull away.

Froome said: "I thought he was stronger than he was at that point and that he could stay with other rivals when I attacked."

Froome and Wiggins will race in different warm-up events ahead of this year's Tour, which starts in Yorkshire on 5 July. Froome competes in the Critérium du Dauphiné from 8-15 June, a race he won in 2013, while Wiggins will race in the Tour of Switzerland from 14-22 June.