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Froome: Wiggins-like rivalry with teammate Thomas unlikely

The pair could potentially co-lead Sky's Tour de France team this summer, but the reigning champion says there's nothing to it.

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MILAN (VN) — Chris Froome does not believe that he and Sky teammate Geraint Thomas will fight for leadership as he did with Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and 2013.

At the team’s camp Tuesday, Froome announced he has extended his contract with the British team through the 2018 season. Thomas’ contact runs through 2016. Over the past several years, Thomas has developed into a stage racer and this winter, Sky general manager David Brailsford told VeloNews Thomas is preparing to co-lead the Tour de France lineup.

That could spell trouble for the super team that already saw a squabble between Froome and Wiggins.

“I find it very hard to see things with ‘G’ going that way [as it did with Wiggins],” Froome said Tuesday, reports Cycling Weekly. “I think, just the both of our characters, we’re both pretty open and honest with each other.

“In every team you’ve got little arguments with the guys around you and that’s great, that’s only healthy that you have those arguments and you talk about what you think you can be doing better or what you’re not doing.”

Wiggins and Froome famously butted heads in the 2012 Tour de France when they finished 1-2. Froome wrote in his book, “We rode around [Wiggins] and his moods like he was a traffic island.” They never raced a grand tour together again, with Wiggins pulling the plug on his 2013 Tour plans after the Giro d’Italia. Froome won that year and in 2015.

Froome will now have to share space with Thomas if it goes according to Sky’s plan. Sky is pulling Thomas out of the classics team and is putting him on a path toward the Tour. Brailsford said in October, “[Thomas] has earned the right to be a protected rider there. If all goes to plan, I don’t see why that couldn’t happen.”

In 2015, Thomas won the Volta ao Algarve and placed second in the Tour de Suisse, and he sat fourth overall in the Tour de France before he slipped to 15th in the final two mountain stages.

“‘G’ and I have been racing together since 2008, when I joined Barloworld and ‘G’ had been there for a year. We go back quite a long way now,” Froome said.

“[Thomas] is not a threat. It’s good for me that there’s someone right there snapping at my heels and if I’m not up to delivering the goods then someone else will there. It’s good pressure on me.”

Froome also underlined on Tuesday that winning a third Tour title was goal No. 1 over the Olympics. He tested the Rio de Janeiro road race and time trial courses in November. Froome found the time trial course to be tougher than he expected and said, “it almost felt as though you are time trialling through the Ardennes at points.”

After Wiggins’ 2012 Tour win, he earned the time trial gold medal at the London Olympics — a race in which Froome finished third.

“Olympic bronze in London felt massive, even on the back of the Tour we’d had. You can’t believe how overwhelming the Olympics are but first and foremost the focus is on the Tour,” added Froome. “A lot of people say ‘defending your title,’ but I don’t feel that’s my mindset. I am going there to challenge for a third title. I am going to get something.”