Wiggins still Sky's main man as Tour head towards Pyrenees
Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2012, stage 12
As the Tour de France heads towards the Pyrenees, Sky is cooling speculation that Chris Froome might take the team's lead.
Froome sits 2-05 minutes behind team-mate and overall race leader Bradley Wiggins, but a precarious 18 seconds ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) in third overall. Sky could allow him a certain freedom to gain time on Nibali and strengthen his second place. The plan would also allow him to carry the yellow jersey comfortably if Wiggins suffered from a crash.
"You don't want be greedy and jeopardise [what you have]," Sky team principal David Brailsford said. "Our aim is to win this race, we've said that all along. If we could add on to that, that's all well and good, but first things first."
Wiggins dominated ahead of the Tour. He became the first cyclist to win all three stage races - Paris-Nice, Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné - in one season.
Froome suffered early in the season, but rebounded in the Tour. He appears to be the Tour's strongest climber and able to ride away from Wiggins. In the key Alpine stage to La Toussuire, Froome attacked four kilometres out and for an instant, seemed to be riding clear of Wiggins. He showed the same strength in the mountain stage to La Planche des Belles Filles, jumping ahead on the last ramp and winning.
His strength seems to have shaken Sky's hierarchy. Cycling Weekly asked sports director, Sean Yates yesterday about the moment on La Toussuire when Froome seemed ready to move free.
"Everything okay, that's all to say," Yates said. "Obviously, there was a bit of a moment, but nothing goes perfectly to plan."
Froome's losses come from a puncture in the first stage, 1-25 minutes, and the time trial to Besançon, 35 seconds.
"At the end of the day, circumstances have dictated that Bradley has 1-30 minutes. It's not always necessarily the best man wins, the best man could lose five minutes like [Alberto] Contador did last year. You could argue he was the best man and didn't win," sports director, Sean Yates said.
"Circumstances change events. Circumstances sometimes dictate that not necessarily the best man wins, but you have to play to your strengths and weaknesses."
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Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever