The battle of the cycleWags: How the feud between Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome has extended to their partners

There is confusion over who will lead Team Sky's charge during the Tour de France, with both riders staking a claim

Cycling's longest simmering feud is threatening to reach boiling point once again - but it's not the men in the saddles stoking the flames.

Sir Bradley Wiggins lines up at the start of the three-week Giro d’Italia today, for what he hopes will culminate in the first leg of a Grand Tour double, having stated his determination to go on and defend his Tour de France title come June. That announcement earlier in the week outraged Michelle Cound, the fiancée of his teammate and rival Chris Froome, who finished second in Paris last year after playing a critical supporting role in the historic win.

Following the barbed exchange with Sir Bradley’s wife, Cath, during the 2012 Tour, inevitably dubbed “War of the Wags”, Cound is now lobbing more tweets at the Wiggins camp. In a message, hastily deleted overnight on Thursday, she said there were “blatant lies from Brad” in an article by respected journalist William Fotheringham. The 33-year-old Olympic champion had said that Team Sky “may run with both of us”, referring to possible co-leadership of the nine-strong Tour de France team.

In cycling’s blue riband event, teams with podium intentions tend to ride in the support of one man, yet Britain and Team Sky are blessed with two world-class riders. Wiggins said the leader would not be decided until days before the Grand Depart in Corsica on 29 June. Froome rushed out a statement reiterating he had been assured by management the No 1 spot is his.

Tensions are extremely high. Wiggins stonewalled any questions about Froome and the Tour at the official Giro launch in Naples on Thursday, telling reporters to talk to Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford. He is staying silent, which cannot be said of Cound. She demanded: “I look forward to @TeamSky clearing up this mess (ASAP) #fedup.” Cound added to the intrigue yesterday by tweeting: “Everything is being resolved.”

Team Sky is privately briefing that Wiggins is their No 1 for the Giro and Froome is team leader for the Tour.

Mrs Wiggins is keeping her powder dry, having deleted her Twitter account in the aftermath of defending her husband’s one-fingered salute to paparazzi when he left hospital last November, having been knocked over by a Porsche during a training ride.

The Wiggins-Froome rivalry is fast becoming the most tense in sport, surpassing even that of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in Formula One’s Red Bull team.

And Cound, a cycling photographer, hinted earlier this week that she did not expect the pair to race together. “Chris & Brad on the same start line, in the same kit? Mmmmmm … doubt it!” she said, adding: “To those claiming this Wiggins/Froome thing is some sort of publicity stunt, you are wrong.”

Referring to their partners in an interview earlier this year, Froome said: “Obviously they had rubbed each other up the wrong way. That’s life.”

But Cound is trampling on anyone who defends Wiggins’s right to retain the Tour winner’s yellow jersey. When Fotheringham declared “Why would he [Wiggins] not want to win the Tour?” Cound pounced: “Sounds like @willfoth is a bit of a puppet in all of this”, she tweeted. That too has been deleted.

Having spent the day with Froome on a recon mission of Mont Ventoux, one of the Tour de France’s toughest climbs, Cound told The Independent “everything should be clarified by the team by tomorrow” (Saturday).

Just like their partners,  the women are equally strong characters and have disparate backgrounds. Born in Wales, Cound spent the first five years of her life in Port Talbot until she and her family moved to South Africa. She and Froome now divide their time between there and Monaco – dubbed “a shit-hole” by Wiggins last year when asked if he would ever leave the UK. “I couldn’t think of a worse place to live.”

Cath Wiggins has stayed close to her Lancastrian roots. Her home is Eccleston, close to the Pennines, with her husband and their children Ben and Isabella.

Revenge is Tweet: Cound’s comments

@michellecound 2 May

@willfoth @mattseaton @inrng there were blatant lies from Brad in your initial story William. Unless you misquoted?

@michellecound 1 May

@Greg_Keller sounds like @willfoth is a bit of a puppet in all of this.

@michellecound 30 Apr

I look forward to @TeamSky clearing up this mess (ASAP). #fedup

@michellecound 30 Apr

To those claiming that this Wiggins/Froome thing is some sort of publicity stunt, you are wrong.

@michellecound 30 Apr

Chris & Brad on the same start line, in the same kit? Mmmmmm… doubt it!

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
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

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star