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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Defendant Personal Injury 2+PQE

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - NICHE DEFENDANT FIRM - Defendant Pe...

Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: JAVA DEVELO...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£475 - £550 per day: Progressive Recruitment: MDAX / Dynamics AX / Microsoft D...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on