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

 

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  • 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….