Will Chris Froome or Bradley Wiggins be Team Sky’s main man in next year’s Tour de France?

Dave Brailsford tells Alasdair Fotheringham that his top two riders don’t have to get on to be successful – but the call as to who will be top dog will be left for now

As the last railings were cleared away here in Paris from the late-night celebrations of the centenary edition of the Tour de France, Sky’s team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said that his two star riders, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, would ride together in races in the future, including – possibly – next year’s Tour.

Asked if Wiggins could lead the team again in a Grand Tour, Brailsford said: "Potentially, potentially. We'll have to see how the rest of the season goes but you can't rule anything out. We're not in the game of ruling things out, we're in the game of ruling things in."

That includes therefore the possibility of Wiggins and Froome, winners of the 2012 and 2013 Tour de France respectively, competing together when the race starts in Yorkshire on 5 July next year. It is a prospect which Brailsford describes as "brilliant... I think whoever represents us [Sky] will be warmly welcomed."

Asked if he thought it was feasible to have both of them on the Tour start-line, Brailsford said: "On a personal level, I'd love to [see that]. Because they're such great talents." The Sky top director intimated that would have been the case in this year's Tour had Wiggins not opted to make the Giro d'Italia his main target - and then failed to start the Tour de France  because of injury.

"If we hadn't decided 'let's go for more than one Grand Tour [the Giro and the Tour de France] and thought 'how do we use the riders we've got in different ways?' If we said 'we'll just try and win the Tour de France next year, and you put the nine absolute tip-top guys for next year, that'd be a strong team. So maybe we do that," Brailsford said.

What does seem unlikely is that Wiggins will either return to the Vuelta a Espana, which begins in late August and was where he finished a breakthrough third in 2011, or the Giro, which he abandoned ill and injured in May. Richie Porte currently seems to be Sky's most likely leader in the Italian Grand Tour, while Wiggins has already ruled out the Vuelta this year, preferring to focus on September's Tour of Britain and the world time-trial championships. Froome, meanwhile, will be building towards the road-race world championships in September and then end-of-season classics like the Tour of Lombardy.

For next year's Tour, it seems likely that Froome and Wiggins could well both be present - once more reviving the whole question of who would be the team leader, an issue which has been rumbling along since the Vuelta in 2011.

Since then - as Froome showed himself to be the strongest climber in the 2012 Tour and Wiggins the most solid all-rounder - Sky's leadership question has been a subject of constant speculation in the media, to the point where Froome issued a press release affirming his top spot for Sky (as the team had always stated) for July.

The plot thickened yet further when Froome said he wished Wiggins had been on the Tour after a day when Sky came under intense pressure from Alberto Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff squad and Froome lost 69 seconds. However, Froome and Wiggins' relationship on a personal level seems to be difficult, with Froome's shortest answer in the whole of his Tour winner's press conference coming when he was asked if he had heard from Wiggins during the race or received any congratulatory text messages from the Londoner up until that point. He hadn't.

Yet another issue muddying the water is that Wiggins himself has questioned whether he will again win the Tour de France. However, Brailsford is adamant that the question of whether his two riders actually click personally is irrelevant. All that matters is whether they work as a team.

"Everybody goes on about, can they be friends? I don't spend a nano-second worrying about whether they get on or not.

"People talk about having team unity and team harmony... I don't buy that at all, most of the best teams I've been with, they're not harmonious.

"This is a gritty environment, where people are pushing hard. Same with the Olympic team. There are agitators and it's a hard environment to spend a month in."

 



What you need is what Brailsford calls "goal harmony". "There's a big difference between the two. I don't care if people like each other or not, but there's a big difference - and they all understand the difference -  between professional and personal behaviour," he said.

"You can have the best friends, the closest-knit group, but if they're not 100 per cent aligned behind the goal, it's not going to work."

Indeed, in the one event Froome and Wiggins have raced together since Wiggins took the Tour de France last year - the Tour of Oman - personal issues did not raise their head. Instead, Froome won hands down while Wiggins played the role of team worker, and played it well. But at that point, too, Froome had nowhere near the road-racing results of Wiggins: now both riders have three Grand Tour  podium finishes each, two of them each in the Tour de France. The stakes for both riders, therefore, are rising.

Brailsford said that, before any  decisions are made, they will wait until the end of the season - in which so far Wiggins has failed to win a single race (although only a puncture stopped him from doing so in the Giro time trial), while Froome has only failed to win one of the stage races he has started.

The fine details of the 2014 Tour route, published on 23 October in Paris, will presumably have an impact on the leadership issue. So too, will the usual risks of injuries and illnesses - which settled the question in Froome's favour this month. Time would not be on Wiggins's side either, given that only three riders older than 34, which will be the Londoner's age next July, have ever won the Tour.

What is certain is that for all Brailsford feels - as he has said elsewhere - Froome can win several Tours, Wiggins is not automatically out of the frame for next July. And quite how the power play would work is impossible to predict. So for now, after Froome's victory two days ago, it is clear who is the rising star for stage racing in the Sky team, but Wiggins could yet bounce back.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions