Tour de France
Wiggins is Team Sky's man
Bradley Wiggins (Gallo Images)
Annonay - Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins is the sole leader of the British outfit despite the strong challenge of teammate Christopher Froome at the Tour de France, sports director Sean Yates said on Friday.
Wiggins, bidding to become the first British rider to win the Tour, leads Froome by 2 minutes and 5 seconds overall. He beat Froome in the first long time trial of this year's race but looked inferior to his lieutenant in the mountains.
Yates said Sky won't take the risk of jeopardizing a possible win in cycling's most prestigious race by letting the two men race each other on the road.
"Our goal from the start has been to win the Tour," Yates said before Friday's 12th stage of the race. "We need to be conservative, we're not going to play roulette. It's logical that he (Brad) should be up there, we're in a perfect situation and we don't want to jeopardize that. That's the end of the story really."
Behind the Sky pair, Vincenzo Nibali of Italy sits in third place, 2:23 off the pace, while defending Tour champion Cadel Evans lags 3:19 behind.
"At the moment, he's got two minutes up on Froomey," Yates said. "When we look at what's left for us in the Tour, then you put two and two together and you come up with Bradley, don't you? It's not a question of trust, it's a question of playing your cards right."
Froome's attack in the final three kilometers of Thursday's alpine stage showed the 27-year-old Kenyan-born climber's superiority in the mountains. He conceded just 35 seconds to Wiggins in the first time trial but is trailing his leader by more than two minutes because of a puncture that cost him precious time during the first stage.
"It's not necessarily the best man who wins, the best man could lose five minutes like (Alberto) Contador did last year," Yates said. "So you could argue he was the best man and he did not win. Circumstances sometimes dictate that it's not necessarily the best man who wins. You have to play to your strengths and other teams' weaknesses."
Sky has outclassed its rivals from the start of the Tour and looks all but guaranteed to secure a British 1-2 when the race ends in Paris on July 22. There is only one big mountain stage still to be raced in the Pyrennes while Wiggins and Froome are expected to dominate the second time trial scheduled on the eve of the final stage on the Champs Elysees.
But Yates refuses to get carried away.
"If Froome went out of the road and Bradley got dropped and then slipped down to fourth and Chris fell off, then we're stuffed," he said. "It's not the swashbuckling days of the 1980s. It's more calculated these days and the reason for that is the increasing budgets, the increasing commercialism and the demands from sponsors. They are not in it for the fun."