Sir Bradley Wiggins admits there is little chance of him winning the Tour de France again as he prepares for a move back to track cycling.
The four-time Olympic champion won Le Tour in 2012 but missed the event this year due to injury and illness as Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome secured a second consecutive British victory. Froome had been appointed team leader before Wiggins’ absence was confirmed so it was highly unlikely the 33-year-old would have had the opportunity to claim a second title and he now admits his Grand Tour ambitions are all but over.
He said: “I don’t mind admitting that Chris is probably a better Grand Tour rider than me. He is a much better climber, he can time trial as well. He has age on his side, he has no kids. That’s fine. If Chris wants to, he could potentially win five Tours now. So if I want to win another Tour, I’d probably have to leave the team.”
Asked if he would ever leave, he added: “I love this team. This is my home. I’m not going to go, ‘I want to be leader so I’m off’.”
The decision by Team Sky to choose Froome as team leader for the 2013 Tour raised some eyebrows with both men claiming at one stage that they would lead the team.
Wiggins’ injury troubles meant that the decision eventually became a formality but he admits that the row over who would lead the team did prove a distraction. “At this team, everyone is encouraged to be as good as they can be,” he said. “I felt, as the defending champion, I was quite entitled to put my hand up and say ‘I would like to be considered for the leadership’. But if someone is chosen over me I am professional enough to do my job.
“I know that at the last press conference I gave before the Giro (d’Italia), saying that caused quite a stir from Chris’s camp. I remember at the start of the Giro there was a lot of s*** and, to be honest, it affected me.”
Looking ahead, Wiggins has declared that his focus will now be on attempting to claim a fifth Olympic gold medal in 2016.
Wiggins won gold medals on the track in 2004 and 2008 before claiming the time trial on the road in London last summer.
It is a return to the velodrome that Wiggins is setting his sights on, though, and he has already begun the process of getting his body back into shape for track competition. I’m going to continue to the next Olympics and try for a fifth gold on the track, that’s the plan,” he said.
“Having lost weight and muscle the last few years, I wouldn’t be able to walk back into that team pursuit squad, so I am not taking it for granted but I am working towards that.”