Chris Froome says that he and his predecessor as Tour de France champion, Sir Bradley Wiggins, have talked through their differences during Team Sky’s recent training camp on Mallorca – and that they “are in a good place now.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the 28-year-old who finished runner-up to Wiggins at the 2012 Tour then won the 100th edition this July, also acknowledged that he had made a miscalculation on the infamous stage of that first race where he appeared to attack his team mate and race leader.
“The fact is Brad and I have just been on a training camp together in Mallorca and we’ve had a talk about things,” Froome explained.
“It was very constructive and we are in a good place now. It was important we did that and it was important for the team, too.
“To be honest we should have done it a very long time ago, just to clear the air, but we are on good terms now.”
His remarks come a day after Wiggins, invested with his knighthood by the Queen at Buckingham Palace, he said he was happy to help Froome try and retain the yellow jersey next year, saying: “Chris is the current winner of the Tour de France and I think he has the right to defend that title next year.
“If I can play a support role, then I’d love to be back in a successful team and on the start line.”
Reflecting on how their relationship turned sour, Froome went on: “The incident in 2012 was at the root of it all,” a reference to Stage 11 of the race to La Toussuire he seemed to attack Wiggins, dropping back on former sports director Sean Yates’ orders via radio.
“I’m not sure it was that big a problem but it was all played out so much in the media, it was allowed to escalate,” added Froome, who has said he was trying to make up time on rival Vincenzo Nibali.
That escalation was in part prompted by a spat on Twitter between the two riders’ respective partners – Wiggins’ wife Cath, and Froome’s now fiancée, Michelle Cound – the moment the stage finished.
“Michelle got caught in the crossfire, too,” said Froome. “At the end of the day she has her opinions and they’re not necessarily my opinions. But she’s very passionate about supporting me when she sees negative things. She’s just being loyal to me.”
Still referring to that stage, he went on: “It was a huge misunderstanding where I thought I was reading the race right. I thought the race had evolved in such a way that opened the door for me to go.
“And I thought if something happens to Brad, like it had the previous year when he crashed, I want to be in the strongest possible position if I’m then asked to take over. It didn’t even cross my mind to attack Brad.
“People need to remember the Vuelta the year before, when Brad dropped off on the climbs and the team suddenly said, ‘Well, you go for GC.’ But I was too far behind by then and I lost the race, finishing second, by something like 11 seconds [ed – in fact it was 13].
“I accept that I read the situation wrong [during the 2012 Tour). I thought Brad was fine. But it very quickly became apparent that it was a problem and that I needed to stop and come back, which is what I did.”
Froome declined to speak about the row over Wiggins not paying him his share of his bonus money after that race, simply confirming that the matter had now been resolved.
Regarding his own style, he said: “I like to think I’m quite an instinctive racer. We always go into a stage with a plan but a race is such a delicate thing. It’s always evolving. It can just be about the moment. It’s as much a psychological battle as a physical one, about who gives in first.
“I’ve always recognised that the pain you suffer in that moment is temporary, and I always tell myself how much I will enjoy it afterwards if I can endure that pain.
He concluded by repeating a pledge he’s already made about demonstrating that cycling has moved on from a drug-tainted era, saying: “Part of what’s driving me is a desire to show, post-Armstrong, that it’s possible to have successive Tour victories clean.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.