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Just when you thought Stage 11 couldn't get any more dramatic (cos it was over) it did...

Emotions run high in the heat of battle in a major stage race and things can be said that might be better left unsaid… it can get pretty stressful on the bike too, but out there on Twitter everybody can hear you scream, especially when you've got 6,543 followers and the person who shouts back has 2,662. On the social network, one unguarded remark can set of a chain reaction unimagined when you hit the return key in the heat of the moment. Such was the case today when Cath Wiggins, wife of Bradley, and Michelle Cound, Chris Froome's girlfriend became embroiled in a what for all the world looked like a Twitter-spat moments after the two riders crossed the finish line on Stage 11.

Clearly, many of the people who follow both women on Twitter do so because of who their partners are, and many weren’t shy in chipping in with their own opinions in response to those tweets – it is, after all, a public forum. As a result, the episode took on a life of its own, to the bemusement of some and amusement of others – David Milar, watching from the sidelines, tweeted, “Oh SNAP! Sky have WAG WAR on Twitter. This shit just got real.”

The comments followed a gripping conclusion to the stage, with Froome riding away from team mate and maillot jaune Wiggins just after the pair had closed down a move from Vincenzo Nibali, with defending champion Cadel Evans already dropped. Shortly after his sudden acceleration, Froome slowed right down, pressing the radio button under his jersey, we’re guessing because someone – Wiggins, or sports director Sean Yates? – was screaming in his ear. Wiggins, perhaps diplomatically, said afterwards that it was difficult to hear over the sound of the crowd.

Froome would finish third in the stage, just ahead of Nibali and Wiggins, and immediately afterwards, Froome’s girlfriend tweeted: “Beyond disappointed…,” adding, “I know what happened just then.”

In another tweet a few minutes later, she continued: “If you want loyalty, get a Froome dog… a quality I value… although being taken advantage of by others!”

Mrs Wiggins, who earlier had tweeted with unwitting prescience, “Down tools everyone, the merde is about to hit the fan ‪#whatgoesdownmustgoup,” tweeted after the stage – and after Ms Cound’s tweet about “loyalty” – “See Mick Rogers and Richie Porte for examples of genuine, selfless effort and true professionalism.”

That tweet was immediately retweeted by Ms Cound, prefaced by the word, “Typical!”

The tweets attracted attention from many Twitter users, with several picking up the fact that Froome’s name was missing from Mrs Wiggins’ tweet; she replied to one by saying, “I am sure he [Froome] gave everything he had too,” and to another by pointing out, “Mick and Richie's efforts will not really be acknowledged in the news, that's all.”

To Ms Cound’s comment of ‘Typical!” she replied, “It is true they rode their hearts out today.”

One Twitter user asked Mrs Wiggins, “Telling choice of phrase. Please tell me there are not any genuine issues between our 2 british heroes?!” to which there came the less than unequivocal response, “I only know Bradley and there certainly is not from him.”

As we said, the tweets and the reaction to them could simply reflect emotions running high at the end of the day’s racing – certainly, subsequent ones made by Mrs Wiggins suggest that’s the way she sees things – or it could be that it’s a sign that Froome and Wiggins view each other more as potential rivals than team mates; there’s no way of telling for sure, and as the maillot jaune’s wife herself points out, “I think people read far too much into 140 characters sometimes.”

In answer to the inevitable question, ‘is it news,’ we’d say it certainly is; it’s not every day that you have two British riders leading the Tour de France, with their partners taking to a public forum to give their version of events to followers running in both cases into the thousands, if nothing else it’s a glimpse of the tension that those closest to the men chasing the sport’s biggest prize feel, and moreover one unfiltered by a team’s PR machine. Similarly, Mark Cavendish’s girlfriend Peta Todd took to Twitter last week to bemoan the lack of protection he was receiving after he was caught up in a crash.

We expect both women’s accounts will be monitored particularly keenly by fans as the race progresses for any other signs of tension, and in the meantime perhaps the best third-party tweet on the episode came from cycling writer Richard Moore, author of Slaying The Badger, who said: “Just trying to imagine the Kathy LeMond / Martine Hinault exchange had twitter been around during @1986Tour.”

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.

47 comments

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Come on road.cc! You are better than this. Not only is this not news but it does nothing but sustain the unnecessary focus on a perceived 'tension' within the (winning) Sky Team.
Lazy journalism and not welcome.

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djm778 [31 posts] 3 years ago
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+1 @some fella; road.cc please do not buy into this kind of reporting, very disappointing!

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 3 years ago
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Sorry it's interesting and it's news,or do you just want us to pretend that slightly awkward stuff like this doesn't happen and keep it a secret known only to Cath Wiggins and Michelle Cound and their 9000 followers on Twitter and the exponential number of followers of their followers? Oh, plus the tens of thousands that follow David Millar.

And btw I think both Mrs Wiggins and Ms Cound have every right to say whatever they like, on message or off, it makes a refreshing change from the anodyne pap provided by the teams.

If there are any more rows on Twitter you'll be reading about them here too.

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Rob Simmonds [251 posts] 3 years ago
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Hmmm. I reckon Froome, on another team, would be Wiggy's biggest rival. But he's on the same team and knows the score. He knows *exactly* what his job is and I hope Sky (and Wiggy) repay him in a future GT. Sure, there's precedent (Hinault/Lemond anyone?) but the press are *desperate* to make this a story. Sadly for them, Wiggy and Froome don't seem to be co-operating.

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 3 years ago
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It's the job of the press to report this as a story, because it is… as that TV reporter told Dave Brailsford when Brailsford said exactly the same thing outside the team bus after the stage.

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seanieh66 [196 posts] 3 years ago
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It was a deliberate scam to make other teams think there is a problem, just like the apparent weakness shown in St 7.

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JonyEpsilon [10 posts] 3 years ago
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Definitely is news ... love it!

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IOM Paddy [38 posts] 3 years ago
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I have to say Miss Cound does have a point - Froome looked like he could have ridden away. If Wiggins wins then he has only won because of the massive amount of work done by the rest of the team. Also Wiggins has had reported issues in the past with working for other people in a team.

Ms Todd also has a point any partner would not be happy to see their loved one smashed up in a crash- (even mine I think) Cav also happens to be World Champ and the action is live on TV. I think Ms Todd might have been expecting a bit more help for World Champ as I did.

Also Mr Wiggins could take a lesson from Cav in how to thank your team mates in public.

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antonio [1103 posts] 3 years ago
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'Cage fighting' in the Twittersphere', very interesting.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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who gives a $hit about these silly squabbling women? pathetic!

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Martin Thomas [377 posts] 3 years ago
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It is news and road.cc is right to run the story, but it also highlights an aspect of Twitter that I find a bit unfortunate: the instant public outlet it offers for feelings that would otherwise dissipate a bit, more often than not.

I bet thousands of tweeters have regretted stuff they've said and wished there was a way of unsaying it. It's all good juicy fun for us on the sidelines...let's just hope it doesn't do anything to mess up Sky's esprit de corps. It's going to be hard enough to win the Tour without internal strife innit?

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 3 years ago
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Yes, I agree about that aspect of Twitter too Martin, although of course if you delete the Tweet that's a good way of signalling that maybe you've thought better of your initial reaction. As for damaging Sky's esprit de corps? I'm not sure, these tweets are only people expressing feelings that would anyway be reflected in private, I'm not sure that us knowing about them makes that much difference - maybe I'm wrong?

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theclaw [73 posts] 3 years ago
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This IS DEFINITELY NEWS and thank you for reporting it. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Sky bus  3 Now, the thing is this: where the hell does Cav fit in if Sky have 2 riders capable of winning grand tours? Say they chuck Froome-dog a tilt at the Vuelta, or the Giro next year, who the hell is going to lead out Cav? And in what races? The man lives for the Tour, and deprived of this platform he is not likely to keep schtum for long. And to my knowledge, all 3 are under contracts of decent length with Sky. Personally I wonder whether what goes around will come around, and having bullied Garmin into releasing Wiggins, Sky will see some of their biggest stars looking to break their contracts and head out the door. Too many Chiefs, not enough Indians, people were saying over the winter, and that was before Froome-dog started pummeling the peloton into submission on la Planche des Belles Filles  1

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 3 years ago
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Martin Thomas wrote:

It is news and road.cc is right to run the story, but it also highlights an aspect of Twitter that I find a bit unfortunate: the instant public outlet it offers for feelings that would otherwise dissipate a bit, more often than not.

I bet thousands of tweeters have regretted stuff they've said and wished there was a way of unsaying it. It's all good juicy fun for us on the sidelines...let's just hope it doesn't do anything to mess up Sky's esprit de corps. It's going to be hard enough to win the Tour without internal strife innit?

I can't help thinking though, that if I were either of them, I wouldn't want something said in public that I didn't agree with - the last thing you would need is to be ringing your missus asking her to lay off arguing with your mate's missus because it's making things awkward at the dinner table.

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bigmel [106 posts] 3 years ago
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IOM Paddy wrote:

If Wiggins wins then he has only won because of the massive amount of work done by the rest of the team.

Yes, that's how cycling works . . .

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step-hent [718 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't see why this isn't news! It will be increasing the likelihood of tension between Wiggo and Froome, and that's both relevant to the racing and interesting.

Thing is, I can't see that Froome did anything disloyal - he put the hammer down, thinking they could drop Nibali, got it wrong, realised he'd got over-excited and slowed right down again. It was hardly disastrous. What I find interesting is all the talk about how fragile Wiggo is and how he's been very forceful about his teammates roles, but the person who should be calming him down (his wife) is actually stirring it up!

Anyway, pro cycling is always as interesting for it's politics and personality clashes as it is for sporting endeavour - each contributes to and enhances the other, and that's what makes it such a complicated and intriguing sport. Don't ignore the politics road.cc!

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John_the_Monkey [436 posts] 3 years ago
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Have to admit, I feel a bit uneasy about "WAG" stories becoming part of cycling too.

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step-hent [718 posts] 3 years ago
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John_the_Monkey wrote:

Have to admit, I feel a bit uneasy about "WAG" stories becoming part of cycling too.

Haven't they always been, to some extent? Fausto Coppi's 'woman in white', for example. Greg Lemond's wife seems to crop up a bit in the stories too.

Fair enough, those women weren't bringing additional publicity on twitter - but perhaps that's only because it didn't exist. Provided that it doesn't become more important than the racing, I'd say it's just all part of professional sport now. In many ways, cycling is better able to assimilate it - it's always been an overtly emotional, political sport where tense relationships are part of the overall picture.

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Campag_10 [153 posts] 3 years ago
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Of course it's a story worthy of reporting. It's an insight into the thoughts and tensions between key players.

No big deal though really. We know that all the teams have their plans, tactics and orders. These guys are well paid to cycle every day and do what they are told. The WAGs should know that and accept it.

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bigmel [106 posts] 3 years ago
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Did Ms. Cound thank Eddie, Richie, Michael and Brad for dragging her boyfriend to the finish?
I seem to remember Chris sat on Brad's wheel for a long long time.

Everyone knew what they were getting (well) paid for when they joined Team Sky. Peta and Michelle would do well to remember that to enjoy the spoils of those contracts their boyfriends need to fufil their obligations.
And not to re-negotiate those terms on Twitter now it doesn't suit them!

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pmr [196 posts] 3 years ago
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The fact is Froome attacked yesterday, whether or not that was a matter of miscommunication is up for debate, as he did mention that they had talked about him going for time at the end of the stage.
The funnier angle is that he heard "GO" when it was "SLOW".
Clearly he was having trouble hearing the radio that's for sure.
And clearly he had the legs at the end, Sky might have stopped him challenging Rolland for the stage win by holding him back, something that certainly appears to have angered his partner and rightly so, Tdf stages dont come easy.
I think Brads gonna have to do some kind of attack of his own at some point before this Tours over, to put this debate to bed and stamp some authority on his climbing ability. Very interesting days ahead!

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WolfieSmith [1246 posts] 3 years ago
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bigmel wrote:

Did Ms. Cound thank Eddie, Richie, Michael and Brad for dragging her boyfriend to the finish?
Peta and Michelle would do well to remember that to enjoy the spoils of those contracts their boyfriends need to fufil their obligations.
And not to re-negotiate those terms on Twitter now it doesn't suit them!

Women should stay at the sink and not say out loud whatever ever enters their silly pretty heads eh? I believe Peta wasn't involved, Michelle earns her own cash and Cath, when not bringing up the kids, actually races herself.  4

This whole spat was silly but publicised by a couple of people on Twitter: one who should know better and get on with cycling and the other with verbal diarrhoea and too much time on his hands.

Road.CC's argument that 'it's news' is valid - if reporting on cat fights is the direction you want to move in? I look forward to the women's GB cycle squad being given Spice names and plenty of speculation about their rivalries in 2 weeks.
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Martin Thomas [377 posts] 3 years ago
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Maybe you're right Tony - can't help thinking it's easier to patch up differences when they've been aired in private though. But as someone else said (too lazy to check who), it's all a bit of a storm in a teacup isn't it? Froome didn't show any disloyalty, just a tiny bit of entirely understandable frustration - and only that when he had a mic shoved in his mush two minutes after finishing. I don't think there's anything to see here...time to move on. Agree that Brad needs to show us what he's got at some point though - if only to cock a snook at his new best mate Nibali  1

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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The fact it promotes the debate of 'Is this news?' only confirms to me that it isnt.

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djm778 [31 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't deny this is news and I don't deny that road.cc have a right to report it. My beef is road.cc's decision to, and motive behind reporting it as a separate piece focusing on the twitter / WAG situation. This piece to me is clearly not about the possible tensions in the Sky team, it just smacks of titillation for the sake of it.

I also happen to agree with Some Fella that it does also smack of lazy journalism and whenever I see the phrase 'it's the press' job', then that usually confirms my suspicion.

Of course I'm interested in any 'possible / perceived tensions' in the Sky team especially when we are so close to seeing the first ever Brit winning a TdF. But lets at least stand together and support them for the rest of the Tour...there will be all the time in the world for titillation , gossip and controversy after (hopefully) a Brit stands on the podium in Paris dressed in Yellow.

Hitherto, road.cc is my favoured and default source of cycling news and will remain so but the decision to devote so much space to this 'News of the World' type story disappointed me.

Spleen vented!

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farrell [1950 posts] 3 years ago
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Yeah, but why is there a picture of a gavel? We don't even use them in this country?

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WolfieSmith [1246 posts] 3 years ago
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Thank you Dmj778. You sum it up very well.

Now Brad and 'FroomeDog' have confiscated their partners mobile... in real news I see Kimmage is on velonation complaining about Team Sky not being 'transparent' over their choice of doctor - and Wiggins 'refusing' to let him accompany Team Sky on this year's tour and interview them every night on doping. Apparently Kimmage had bought a van and everything!

It's Grassy Knoll / Area 51 / Roswell. time again.  37

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dave atkinson [6148 posts] 3 years ago
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We stick up a lot of news about all kinds of stuff, some stories more peripheral than others, not everyone enjoys all of it but that's all fine. A lot of people seem to be interested in this story though, for better or worse.

we're not on any particular kind of mission to dig this stuff up, it was all kind of obvious and rather public. It's a separate story because, well, it's a separate story. peripheral to the actual racing but clearly related to it. Also, if it's a separate story you can just ignore it and read about the racing instead. What? Oh.  1

Lazy journalism? Simon's found the story, sorted out the timeline of the exchange for you along with some pertinent comments from other parties, framed it in the context of the race and added his own insight and opinion. Which is the bit where he's being lazy? The whole 'is it news?' debate was pre-empted by him anyway, he thought it was news and you're free to disagree; again, that's all fine.

We're all rooting for Wiggo and the Froomedog here too. Nothing we'd like to see more than a Brit win the Tour.

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Cooks [490 posts] 3 years ago
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Have you seen Froome's Mrs's twitter pic? She's hot!!

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 3 years ago
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I can't help noticing that all those who don't like us running this story, came on here and commented on it… so presumably you either read it - and I'd have to say the title clearly spelled out what it was about so you could have spared yourself, or you commented on it without reading it… which is surely lazy commenting  39

There is no way you can slice it that this isn't a news story - sometimes news is awkward and embarrassing, maybe this is one of them, that doesn't stop it from being news though.

Also I don't see why knowledge of stuff like this should be restricted to Twitter users - there are a lot of them, and both women have added a few thousand more followers since yesterday, but even so not everybody uses social media - why should they be shut out from knowing what's going on?

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