by Julian GUYER
LONDON, June 27, 2014 (AFP) – Former winner Bradley Wiggins was not
included in the Sky team announced Friday for this year’s Tour de France.
Wiggins, who won the race in 2012 — the same year he took Olympic
time-trial gold — had long been resigned to being omitted from a team now
built around Chris Froome, last year’s Tour de France winner.
“It was a very tough decision,” Sky boss Dave Brailsford said when
unveiling his squad.
“Bradley’s been a great champion, is a great champion — he’s been
fundamental to the growth of cycling in this country.
“But my job is to look at the best probabilities to try to win, to picture
somebody on that podium with the yellow jersey on the Champs Elysees and work
back from there.
“You look at the riders you’ve got and think who’s the best placed to try
and win, then you build a team based on evidence, based on logic — you try to
take the emotion out of it.
“A star team will always beat a team of stars. I think that’s really
important,” added Brailsford, who labelled Froome “the best stage race rider
in the world”.
Earlier this month, Wiggins suffered a thigh injury following a crash
during the Tour of Switzerland, having missed last year’s Tour due to a
combination of a chest infection and a knee problem.
But Brailsford was adamant Wiggins, who has won seven Olympic medals
including four golds, had a future with Sky.
– More racing in Bradley –
“On this occasion, Bradley will miss out,” he said. “But it’s one race,
there’s still the future and there’s a lot more racing in Bradley.”
Wiggins, who in winning the race two years ago became Britain’s first Tour
de France champion, is now expected to turn his attention to competing at next
month’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Froome will be supported by his long-time right hand man Richie Porte in a
nine-strong team which also includes Geraint Thomas, Mikel Nieve, Bernhard
Eisel, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Danny Pate and Xabier Zandio as Sky go
for a hat-trick of Tour wins.
Froome has won both the Tour of Oman and Tour de Romandie this season.
He also led the Criterium du Dauphine until, a day after crashing on the
sixth stage, he was overtaken and eventually finished the race in 12th place.
Wiggins, speaking after winning the British time trial in Newport, south
Wales on Thursday — before the Sky line-up was made public – forecast
Brailsford would select an “incredible team”.
“We saw the best of Chris at the start of the Dauphine, then it looked like
he was hampered by the crash,” said Wiggins.
“Chris, at the start of the Dauphine, in that form, it looks like no-one
can touch him really.
“He is quite a strong character. He knows exactly what he needs to do…I
think the team they are sending is an incredible team.
Wiggins added: “I would have liked to have been there but at the same time,
the squad is so strong now.
“It came down that there was a cut-off point, and I probably hadn’t had the
preparation with having gone back on the track, really.
“It’s disappointing on a personal level, but I think from a team point of
view they have probably put the strongest squad up as it stands today. It was
always looking that I probably wasn’t going to ride the Tour.”
The 21-stage race begins on July 5 in Leeds, northern England and will
conclude on July 27 in Paris.