Wiggins and Froome – defensiveness on the road and off it

Does anyone else wish that Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome would just knock it off? They both know that wattage speaks louder than words, so why all this public campaigning to be the designated team leader at the Tour de France?

What’s going on?

It’s primarily Wiggins’ fault. He’s been doing it all year. Whenever he’s asked about the Tour, he basically floats the idea that given the opportunity, he would love to win the race again this year. The journalist then asks how that could possibly happen if Wiggins is riding for Froome. Wiggins then outlines some subtly different leadership scenarios.

At first he was nobly riding in support, but poised to take up leadership if Froome were to crash or fall ill. Now it’s more like they’re co-leaders and ‘the race will decide’. Wiggins may rarely light up a race, but it seems he’s not averse to fanning the flames before it.

How has Froome reacted?

I wouldn’t call it a tantrum, exactly, but the more attacking rider is getting enormously defensive. He just wants Wiggins to shut up so that he can focus on preparing for the Tour. After Wiggins said the two might share leadership for the first week of the Tour, Froome went to the trouble of putting out a statement, the general gist of which was:

“No, no, actually that’s not what’s happening. Actually I’m going to be team leader, actually. I asked Mum and Dad and they said that I’m going to be team leader because it’s my turn and Brad has to work for me this time.”

That’s not a direct quote.

Anything else?

Then Froome’s missus took to Twitter:

Maybe Wiggins is secretly hoping that Team Sky will think Froome’s not up to withstanding the media scrutiny, to which Froome could reply: “Yeah, but I can cycle uphill faster than you can” – which is surely the main thing here.

What are Team Sky doing about this?

What you have to understand about Sir Dave Brailsford is that he is an actual psychopath. Not in the hacking-people-to-pieces-with-an-antique-scimitar sense. More in the having-no-regard-whatsoever-for-people’s-feelings sense. He only cares about other people’s emotions in terms of how they might affect his goals.

If a rider is angry or irritable and it doesn’t affect his goals, he doesn’t care. If a rider is angry or irritable and it spurs on a rival within the team, he’s delighted. We can therefore expect more of this bickering in coming weeks, unless Wiggins falls at the Giro and breaks his collarbone. Sometimes it’s best to focus on the task in hand.