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?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker