THE potential inter-team rivalry between Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome at Team Sky can only benefit cycling, says team-mate Geraint Thomas.
Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour de France with Froome second, has claimed that a decision on who will lead the team at this year’s race will not be made until much nearer to the 29 June start.
But Froome believes he has already been given the nod by Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford to lead the British team’s challenge as Wiggins focuses on winning the Giro d’Italia, which starts this weekend. Even Froome’s fiancée took to Twitter earlier this week to urge Team Sky to “clear up this mess” in relation to the Tour debate, but Thomas believes the situation can only promote the sport further.
“I quite like all the hype,” he said. “I think it is good and gets cycling out there. It is another story, as long as it doesn’t affect the riders and I don’t think it is.
“I was with Froomey a couple of days ago and he was just joking about it, it gets people talking. The sport needs that really, those types of stories. We don’t want it to go down the football route and it become a soap opera, but I think the odd story like this is good.”
Thomas is likely to form part of Team Sky’s operation to retain the Tour de France title and he admits he does not have a preference as to who he would like to see lead this time round.
“I think that as long as the same thing happens as last year and we win, I don’t care who wins,” he said. “As long as it is Team Sky, hopefully they will both be on the podium and that will mean more prize-money.”
Wiggins enjoyed a memorable 2012, returning home after winning the Tour de France to collect an Olympic gold medal in the time-trial in London.
He has said he wants to win the Giro and Tour de France this year and Thomas, who holds two Olympic golds but will not compete in Italy, thinks Wiggins can achieve it. He said: “I really like racing in Italy but I wouldn’t have been able to have as long a break. The season is so long now, from January until October, you need to take those chunks of time out. I think it is a two-horse race between him [Wiggins] and [Vincenzo] Nibali to be honest.
“I don’t see why Bradley can’t win both, a lot can happen. He is probably one of a few guys who can actually do it.”
Stephen Roche, who won both events in 1987, has also backed Wiggins to do the daunting double providing the political issues are worked out. HotChillee ambassador Roche said: “It’s quite ambitious, but then Bradley is ambitious.
“From what we’ve seen of Froome, this year’s Tour will suit him more than Bradley. Bradley’s going in there with the opposition thinking about Froome, so he can let Froome take all the responsibility.
“A lot will depend on if Bradley can win the Giro. If he doesn’t win the Giro, he’ll want to win the Tour at any cost.”