Team Sky WAGs show the strain as the Tour hots up… on Twitter

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

by Simon_MacMichael   July 12, 2012  

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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.”

47 user comments

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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.

posted by step-hent [639 posts]
13th July 2012 - 9:40

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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.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
13th July 2012 - 9:46

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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!

Gravity - it won't let you down.

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posted by bigmel [63 posts]
13th July 2012 - 9:56

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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!

posted by pmr [147 posts]
13th July 2012 - 10:15

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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. Big Grin

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.
Yawn

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [935 posts]
13th July 2012 - 10:31

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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 Smile

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posted by Martin Thomas [563 posts]
13th July 2012 - 11:11

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The fact it promotes the debate of 'Is this news?' only confirms to me that it isnt.

posted by Some Fella [621 posts]
13th July 2012 - 12:30

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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!

posted by djm778 [33 posts]
13th July 2012 - 13:03

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Yeah, but why is there a picture of a gavel? We don't even use them in this country?

posted by farrell [1032 posts]
13th July 2012 - 13:29

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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. Yawn

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [935 posts]
13th July 2012 - 14:14

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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. Smile

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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posted by Dave Atkinson [7044 posts]
13th July 2012 - 17:23

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Have you seen Froome's Mrs's twitter pic? She's hot!!

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

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posted by Cooks [468 posts]
13th July 2012 - 18:21

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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 Thinking

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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posted by Tony Farrelly [4112 posts]
13th July 2012 - 19:16

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Froome's too far behind to win the tour in any case. If there was a 40" difference this would be interesting. Froome will do what he's told and win La Vuelta. Wiggins won't attack anywhere. He likes a constant pace. That's why Froome had to back off. From a sports science point of view it's the best option. Stay on the saddle, keep it steady. It saves energy. Evans didn't attack last year and he was still a worthy winner. Brad will be as well, (barring accidents).

posted by Alan Tullett [1296 posts]
13th July 2012 - 19:24

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Alan Tullett wrote:
That's why Froome had to back off.

Are you suggesting that if Froome had continued his attack he wouldn't have beaten Wiggins to the line? Not sure even Mrs W would have said that.

ps on the spat I love Millar's comments.

posted by StickyBottle [4 posts]
13th July 2012 - 19:48

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I always thought 'Wiggo' was an unimaginative nickname. He likes his music, so how about 'Ringo', as in, 'Is Ringo Starr the best drummer in the world?...'

posted by wild man [274 posts]
13th July 2012 - 22:29

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Nice one, wild man - subtle but very funny, if you know the original reference Wink

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7512 posts]
13th July 2012 - 22:45

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A lot has been said about this but nothing is said about TJ leaving Evans and having to be told to slow down for the current tour champion Thinking

Or is it because they are both British and we are again trying to find fault where there is none ?

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2448 posts]
13th July 2012 - 23:11

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Cooks wrote:
Have you seen Froome's Mrs's twitter pic? She's hot!!

There's the real story!

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posted by keith roberts [173 posts]
13th July 2012 - 23:23

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Tony, there is a sensible part of my brain telling me to leave this debate alone...oops...I must have damaged the sensible bit last time I fell off...

...as I have already pointed out, I am a big fan and avid reader of road.cc, and usually I find the reporting of a high standard (in fact it was your - I think - video review of the Betty Leeds which led me to buying one!). I rarely post, however, I did in this instance because I felt strongly that the decision to run this story a a separate piece was a mistake. It was very obvious from the title what the piece was about, however, I read it to make sure before commenting. I hope you would agree that is not lazy commenting.

You (and Dave) are also right about the fact that I could have spared myself and simply ignored it, but the 'if you don't like it, don't read it' argument is a bit flimsy and somewhat defencive and makes one feel that you're not really entitled to challenge the the decision made to run the piece, or any other piece for that matter.

With regards to is it news or not, I have already agreed it is, I personally find it a poor example of news. With regards to all the interest the piece has had, well I suspect the interest is now more about this debate than the actual content of the piece.

As to this 'knowledge' being restricted to twitter, well, twitter is open to everyone and is fully in the public domain so it's hardly restricted.

Lastly, what really gets under my skin is why, (and it does seem to be something we Brits do very well), do we have to start undermining our sporting heroes just as they are on the brink of something great by giving credence and fuel to silly stories like this.

posted by djm778 [33 posts]
13th July 2012 - 23:25

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From the Cycle Sport article about Sky at the Dauphine in 2011:
"Earlier in the day, Sutton had said that if he had his way, he’d ban the riders and staff using Twitter. “You make a negative story if you ban it so it’s not worth it. But last year a few things got said that weren’t the image we wanted to project. We’ve told the riders, you’ve gotta be careful.”"

posted by kcr [45 posts]
13th July 2012 - 23:51

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Stumps - different situation, Evans was having a bad day and just couldn't go with Van Garderen, different to the overhead shots of Froome absolutely launching himself (whatever the reason behind that was).

It's not a case of anyone trying to drive a wedge between the riders or undermine British success - well not us anyway, though some others might - but it was a very strange incident between riders lying 1 and 3 on GC and where you also have the backstory of what happened on the Vuelta.

There are a lot of people out there who believe that Froome would have won that race if Sky had focused on him once he was in the jersey.

And this wouldn't be the first time by any means that a junior rider on a team had ambushed a leader on the Tour - plenty of examples throughout the race's history.

On Eurosport yesterday, after watching the replay a few times, David Harmon was absolutely adamant that it couldn't have been anything other than an attack - we've stopped short of saying that, it's one possible explanation of several. Who knows if we'll ever find out what really happened?

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7512 posts]
13th July 2012 - 23:55

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I'm puzzled though djm778 why you think talking about this will undermine our sporting heroes?

I don't see that anything in this story, or in the comments below can be seen as undermining our sporting heroes - because it's all stuff they surely know already.

It's not telling us anything their wife and girlfriend weren't broadcasting on Twitter to their many thousands of followers and saying to them in private. Incidentally I think it's a good thing that Cath Wiggins and Michelle Cound feel free to air their feelings on Twitter and their partners obviously don't have a problem with it either.

There's also the point that Wiggins and Froome aren't necessarily heros to every British cycling fan, just the same as every italian doesn't like Nibali, and not every Australian is an Evans fan.

I'm sure Wiggins knows well enough that some British cycling fans prefer Froome, and I'm sure he's know for years that some British cycling don't like him for whatever reason - that's the way sports fans are. Similarly when I chose to run the piece I knew some people wouldn't like it, but I also knew that that wasn't a good enough reason not to run a strong news story… and anyway, I like a good debate Smile

Hope you're still enjoying the Betty Leeds - lovely bike and a shame there won't be any more of them.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4112 posts]
14th July 2012 - 0:03

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tony
your wrong this is a non story fit for ok hello or the sun not what is expected of a series sport site it demeans your site and who amongst proper fans gives a S... what a WAG has to say in their bid for self-publicity

Polly

posted by watercrook [48 posts]
14th July 2012 - 8:57

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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Stumps - different situation, Evans was having a bad day and just couldn't go with Van Garderen, different to the overhead shots of Froome absolutely launching himself (whatever the reason behind that was).

It's not a case of anyone trying to drive a wedge between the riders or undermine British success - well not us anyway, though some others might - but it was a very strange incident between riders lying 1 and 3 on GC and where you also have the backstory of what happened on the Vuelta.

There are a lot of people out there who believe that Froome would have won that race if Sky had focused on him once he was in the jersey.

And this wouldn't be the first time by any means that a junior rider on a team had ambushed a leader on the Tour - plenty of examples throughout the race's history.

On Eurosport yesterday, after watching the replay a few times, David Harmon was absolutely adamant that it couldn't have been anything other than an attack - we've stopped short of saying that, it's one possible explanation of several. Who knows if we'll ever find out what really happened?

Simon i wasnt having a pop at yourself, far from it as i enjoy reading the articles you produce. What i meant was that something quite minor in the big picture of things provokes quite a bit of controversy in this country when other minor points - such as the evans / tj incident rarely get a mention. I know the Evans / tj incident was different but there was nothing said about it other than a quick comment on Eurosport. Harman was possibly right about it being an attack but with only a couple of Kms left i dont believe it would have done any real damage and the whoever the DS in the car was has panicked and told Froome to stop. I personally hope it doesnt make any difference in the GC standings come the end of the tour.

Anyway you cant beat 2 lasses having a good old beef about their hubbies can we Laughing

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2448 posts]
14th July 2012 - 12:42

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Cooks wrote:
Have you seen Froome's Mrs's twitter pic? She's hot!!

My only opinion on the matter too. He is batting well above his average there. Good on him.

andrew streit

posted by andrew streit1 [26 posts]
14th July 2012 - 13:38

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watercrook wrote:
tony
your wrong this is a non story fit for ok hello or the sun not what is expected of a series sport site it demeans your site and who amongst proper fans gives a S... what a WAG has to say in their bid for self-publicity

We're not a sports site watercrook we're a news and reviews site about cycling, all aspects of it. So if a similar story comes along we'll run it.

As for who amongst proper fans gives a shit? Well, the stats for this story suggest that quite a lot of cycling fans are do indeed give a shit, or maybe they're not proper cycling fans?

All of this stuff has always gone on in cycling… the only difference is now you can read about it straight away (if you want to) rather than waiting for someone's memoirs a few years down the line. Oh, and if you lived in a country where cycling was a bigger sport this sort of stuff would be in the media all the time.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4112 posts]
14th July 2012 - 13:46

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I wish my life was so simple that I could justify giving over my free time to following Mrs Wiggins on this "Twitter" thing.

posted by Nick T [621 posts]
14th July 2012 - 16:59

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Good article. Thanks.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
15th July 2012 - 16:10

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As a professional journalist I just want to weigh in and say that of course road.cc were right to run this article. If something cycling related has occurred, then why not report it? Doesn't matter whether it's reporting positive or negative news, high or low minded subject matter, it's whether it's true or not that is important. Writers should not be made afraid of a backlash from readers who think they are above tittle-tattle.

And it's a good article.

posted by DeCockburn [4 posts]
16th July 2012 - 23:26

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