Bradley Wiggins (Sky) admitted in an interview with L’Equipe that he will likely not be racing the Tour de France this summer, and hinted he could be leaving the team at season’s end.
Despite public assurances from Sky general manager Dave Brailsford that Wiggins is being considered to ride the Tour in a support role for defending champion Chris Froome, the 2012 Tour winner told the French sports daily the only way he’ll race the Tour is if Froome suffers a setback in the coming weeks.
“In recent weeks, it has become obvious that unless something happens to Froome at the Dauphiné, I will not be at the Tour,” Wiggins told L’Equipe Thursday. “I will miss [the Tour]. If I want to ride the Tour again, I will probably have to leave Sky.”
The 34-year-old Wiggins had grudgingly accepted a support role for Froome, and promised not to make trouble within the Sky camp. Wiggins and Froome have locked horns for team leadership since the 2011 season. Wiggins won the 2012 Tour, but crashed out of the Giro d’Italia last year, and did not start the Tour, clearing the way for Froome’s rise to the top of Sky’s hierarchy.
Wiggins said he spoke with Brailsford earlier this week, who suggested he concentrate on the Commonwealth Games later this summer.
Despite strong riding at Paris-Roubaix and a victory at the Amgen Tour of California, Wiggins said he could read the writing on the wall.
“I was still hopeful after California, but when everyone went to an altitude camp … I knew then I probably wouldn’t be going to the Tour,” he continued. “If something happens to Froome, I might be part of the team to help Richie Porte, but if it’s someone else, I won’t be the alternate.”
There was no immediate response from Sky, but Wiggins’ comments reveal a growing frustration for the British cycling superstar.
Wiggins also confirmed he still does not have an offer for next season from Sky, which he joined in 2010, and suggested he might have to leave the team if he hopes to ride the Tour again. Wiggins has already been linked to Orica-GreenEdge, and other teams would surely be interested in his services, albeit at a reduced price tag of his estimated salary of 4 million British pounds per season.
Wiggins said he was ready to accept a support role to Froome, who has emerged as the Sky favorite and the new rider of reference in the peloton for the Tour, and admitted he will miss a chance to race on home roads for the 2014 Tour start in England on July 5.
“As a former winner, with the Grand Depart in Great Britain, it would have been great to have been there,” Wiggins continued. “The team wants to win the Tour, that’s how it is, and they cannot have even a small issue, because that would be disastrous.”
Wiggins said he will likely return to the track to prepare for the Commonwealth Games in August, laying the groundwork for a shot at another gold medal in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, with an outside shot of racing the Vuelta a España in late August.
With Froome and Porte racing the Dauphiné starting Sunday, Wiggins is slated to start the Tour de Suisse on June 14.