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!

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
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

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution