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.”

Tour de France 2012: Latest news

Millar’s Tour win comes after ‘second chance’

Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire

Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance

Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition

Wiggins: ‘I’m not some s**t rider that’s come from nowhere

Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration

Cavendish enjoying new Tour role

Wiggins taking nothing for granted in ‘dream scenario’

Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins

Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France

Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list

Tour 2012: Who will win?

Tour de France 2012 provisional start list

Tour de France 2012 team list

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: TV schedule

ITV4 live schedule

British Eurosport live 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


  • Proud to be British

    Adam, yes probably! The not so impartial duo of Liggett and Sherwen have even put their two pence worth in. Liggett today, on the only climb of the stage, was quick to point out that Monsieur Hinault thinks Froome is the stronger rider and Sky are backing the wrong leader. Miaoww!

    Liggett has never really had good word to say about Wiggins on this Tour. He’s been over Cadel Evans like a rash though. Much like he was with Armstrong during that disturbing period of cycling history. Sincerely hope Wiggins gets yellow in Paris just to shut a lot of people up!!

  • k.davies

    I cant believe this is discussed, if froome is to beat wiggins from this position in the tour it is a national disgrace, D.Brailsford/sky have planned for team sky all year to have Wiggins at No 1 and his back up team, they have screwed up Cavendish’s chance of Green and they suddenly change tactics two weeks in when Wiggins is leading to Froome then it would be unbelievable as team tactics and planning count for nothing!

    Froome will be the main sky man for years to come, first of all he has to follow orders and ride for the team built around Wiggins, if not it could be a famous win but i suggest the start of the end for team Sky???

  • adam

    Is this all the media stirring it up? Look at Rogers’ statements on Twitter about getting booed by the Aussie fans. ‘I’m there to do a job. My boss tells me what to do and I do it… maybe the fans would like to pay my salary next year instead?’. End of story. Froome will ride for Wiggins until either Wiggins wins or something bad happens to Wiggins leaving Froome as a back-up. Next year, he’ll be in a position to renegotiate that arrangement – and move to a different team if needs be. If he fails to do this he’ll be ostracised from British fans and possibly teams. I sincerely doubt he’s that stupid….