After days of media and fan debate about whether or not Bradley Wiggins should be part of Sky’s Tour de France team, a topic brought to the fore when Wiggins said that he had been told he wouldn’t be racing, team principal Dave Brailsford has now said the team will not be decided until later this month.
Brailsford said that the final line-up would be decided by a selection panel, and that it will convene after the Tour de Suisse, which Wiggins is riding.
While he didn’t specifically refer to the 2012 winner, he is riding the Tour de Suisse and the timing of the panel’s convening gives him an opportunity to ride well in Switzerland and make a case for his inclusion.
“In Team Sky we have a set way of doing this,” Brailsford told Sky Sports in a video interview. “You analyse the demands of the event. You figure out how you think you can win this event. So you picture who has got the right attitude…if the guys are spending three and a half weeks, four weeks together in a bus like this, you want a tight-knit group. You need trust, you need camaraderie, you need all of that in a team to be able to compete for this race. We will be looking at all of that and piecing that jigsaw together.
“Ultimately, there is a selection panel which will sit after the Tour de Suisse, which I chair, and that selection panel will absolutely pick the team.”
Wiggins told the BBC last Friday that he had several conversations with general manager Dave Brailsford and had been told he wouldn’t be riding. “As it stands today I won’t be on the start line at the Tour. The team is going to be based around Chris Froome, the defending champion,” he told 5 live. “Obviously he is bidding to win his second Tour.
“The selectors have decided that the team they have got is strong enough to do that. Personally I’m really disappointed. Having missed it last year due to injury, I’d worked hard all winter to get back to where I was in 2012. I’ve come off quite a successful year. But at the same time I understand why they have done that and that it is not about one man, it is about the team, coming back with a second Tour.”
Former Tour winner Stephen Roche told CyclingTips this weekend that he could understand if the team decided to leave a big name at home if he didn’t fit into the team dynamic.
“In any three week event, there will always be friction and tensions in the last week as everyone is so tired, whether it be personnel, riders, management,” said Roche, who was part of a divided team during the 1987 Giro d’Italia. “In every team, no matter what they say, there is always friction there in that third week. Everyone is under pressure.
“In the first week, things can happen and nobody raises an eyebrow, but in the last week everyone gets very narky over the smallest little thing.
“Tours are generally won and lost in the last week, so they cannot take any risk that there could possibly be any rupture.”
Brailsford was asked by Sky Sports if the relationship between Froome and Wiggins would be taken into account when selecting the team.
“Of course. We take the relationship between everybody. The thing about a team like this…it is an interesting sport, in so far as one person wins…everybody else has got to sacrifice themselves to get that person to win,” he said. “It is not just about Chris and Brad, I think you look at the whole group dynamic, you look at the whole dynamic of the team, you look at relationships and you look at how commitment is and how willing people are to sacrifice and suffer and give themselves for somebody else’s benefit and the team’s benefit.
“That all comes into consideration. So it is not just about maybe two people, if there is any friction. It is about how that might affect the entire group. It is how that might affect the entire staffing team. You want a unified team who are absolutely going for the same goal if you want to be successful in this race. And we will be taking that into consideration, for sure.”
Froome and several of those expected to ride the Tour are currently competing in the Critérium du Dauphiné. Wiggins is due to ride the Tour de Suisse, which runs from June 14th until June 22nd.
British Cycling announced today that he would also be riding the national road race championships. By that point in time it is likely that he will know for sure whether or not he will be at the Tour start in Leeds on July 5th.