Cycling: Bradley Wiggins ready to relinquish Tour de France title and put Chris Froome on pedestal

Giro d'Italia will be his goal after next year's route for France revealed too many steep climbs

The final confirmation is lacking, but it looks increasingly certain that Bradley Wiggins will not defend his 2012 Tour de France title, but will race as a key wingman for Sky team-mate and this year's runner-up, Chris Froome.

Click HERE to view graphic

Instead, Wiggins will concentrate on the Giro d'Italia, cycling's second biggest stage race. "It's more than likely I'll ride in a supporting role for Chris," Wiggins said at the presentation of the Tour's centenary edition 2013 route in Paris yesterday. "It was always about winning one Tour de France. I've done it and I'm very proud the way I did it. I want to be in a successful team and if that's Chris [as leader] then so be it.

"My priority is the Giro d'Italia. It's become apparent that it's very difficult to compete in two grand tours and so it's very likely I'll be there [in the Tour] in a helping capacity."

Wiggins (below) did insist – jokingly – that "he [Froome] will have to grow to some sideburns though", a reference to his own trademark muttonchops that became a familiar sight to British sports fans this year as Team Sky took a stranglehold on the Tour barely a week into the 21-day race.

Wiggins' supremacy last July was such that it will be hard to imagine a switch in roles for the British duo between team leader and domestique de luxe, as cycling calls the top "helper", but it would boost both Wiggins' personal ambition and Sky's chance of a repeat victory.

Should Wiggins win in the three-week Italian race – which he led for one day in 2010 – it would be a first for Great Britain. The inclusion in the Giro next year of a 53km individual time trial – unusually long for the Italian race and Wiggins' strongest suit – makes it even more attractive for him. Racing the Giro flat out, though, would make it almost impossible for the Londoner to dispute the Tour de France a month later.

Alberto Contador, cycling's top stage racer, was the last to try, last year. He won the Giro, but finished fifth in the Tour. Other Grand Tour winners, such as Cadel Evans and Denis Menchov, have tried the double and failed even more dismally.

Hence the increasing likelihood that Froome, rather than Wiggins, will step up in the 2013 Tour, and after the route for next July was revealed yesterday it became increasingly probable.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Unlike this year's Tour, which had more than 100km of the flat individual time trialling in which Wiggins excels, the 2013 race will have just 65km, half of it extremely hilly. He was comfortably in the lead by the final time trial outside Paris this year, which became a trump card he did not need to play: in 2013 he would not have that extra card up his sleeve.

Significant too, is the huge slab of mountain climbing in the last 10 days compared to this year. This starts with the Mont Ventoux, rated by many as the toughest single ascent in France. It continues with a double climb of the infamous Alpe d'Huez, scene of many a decisive Tour duel, to the point it is frequently claimed whoever wears yellow at the Alpe's summit will wear the same colour in Paris.

Wiggins' ability on steady, mammoth Pyrenean and Alpine climbs is beyond question, and would be invaluable to Froome. But – and it is a big but – his ability to respond to sudden, darting attacks on the steepest climbs like the Alpe d'Huez has never been truly tested. While not so much of a time-trialling thoroughbred as Wiggins, Froome is as good at doling out such sudden mountain charges as he is at countering them. Hence, he is a better option for victory.

Contador agreed that the reversal would be good for Sky by describing the Kenyan-born Froome as "the most dangerous rival for me." The Spaniard – twice a Tour winner – told The Independent: "It's Froome I fear the most. He's very dangerous in the mountains and he was the strongest climber this year."

Contador insisted Wiggins' Tour victory and superb 2012 season made him a contender. But there was little doubt that he sees Froome as cycling's coming man. Resolving this issue – and justifying it should Wiggins fail in the Giro or Froome in the Tour – will not be easy for Sky.

Another Briton's task in next year's Tour is very straightforward, however. Mark Cavendish, in his new Omega Pharma squad, will have the opportunity to wear the leader's yellow jersey thanks to a flat opening stage – the tour's first since 1966. To have that chance in the centenary Tour can only make it more attractive.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement