Chris Froome sacrifices stage, Tour and self for Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky

This may be an exaggeration, but it’s not as ludicrous as it seems.

Bouncing up the final climb of stage 17, Chris Froome seemed entirely unarsed by the gradient and more than capable of hauling in Alejandro Valverde. However, he opted to wait for Wiggins. Potential stage win lost.

Froome also outperformed Bradley Wiggins in the stage 10 time trial in last year’s Vuelta. It’s possible he could do the same in the remaining time trial in this year’s Tour. He’s two minutes down, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a few seconds in today’s stage and a minute-and-some in the time trial could have put him in yellow.

But he didn’t go for today’s stage win. That’s not his job. Chris Froome’s job is to do whatever he can to help Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France, so that’s what he did. It’s really quite admirable and it’s one of the things I love about cycling. Riders sacrifice themselves in what is, to most people’s perception, an individual sport.

Have Sky named the right team leader? It doesn’t matter, because Wiggins certainly seems good enough to win. Anything else is both a bonus and an irrelevance for now. We might also yet see the wisdom in the hierarchy in the coming time trial.

Either way, it was individuals versus a team on stage 17 of the 2012 Tour de France and Wiggins seemed almost tearfully appreciative of the other Team Sky riders in his post-race interview. Nibali and the others were quite simply outmanned.