If all goes to plan Chris Froome will lead Team Sky at the Tour de France, that was the message from Sir Dave Brailsford via the Team Sky website in which he again reiterated Sky's intention to at the very least podium in all of this year's grand tours.
Brailsford described the process to decide who will lead at the Tour (and presumably any other race too) as "evidence based" and once again confirmed that in the eyes of Team Sky's management on current evidence Froome is the man for the job:
“As always the team selection is a management decision and it will be evidence-based. However it is crucial there is clarity of purpose and for that reason we will go to the Tour with one leader.
“Taking that into consideration and given Chris’ step up in performances this year, our plan, as it has been since January is to have him lead the Tour de France team.
However, the Team Sky principal also pointed out that the final selection of the nine riders for the Tour would not take place until after the Dauphine stage race in a few weeks' time. So while Sky's backing for Froome to lead at the Tour is probably as unequivocal as it prudently can be, given the nature of professinal sport it does come with a measure of qualification.
So far this year Froome has won the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, and most recently the Tour of Romandie. Barring a crash or a sudden catastrophic loss of form, Froome must surely know that he is Sky's man for the Tour and so must Sir Bradley. Last week as Wiggins made his final Giro preparations, Froome was recceing stage 15 of this year's Tour which includes the climb of Mont Ventoux.
While backing Froome to lead at the Tour, Brailsford was also careful to sugar the pill for Sir Bradley Wiggins - if any sugar was needed. Wiggins is currently seeking to win the Giro and last week while preparing for the off seemed to throw a spanner in the works of Sky's well oiled machine by suggesting he wanted to defend his Tour de France title. From the outside this looked like Wiggins going back on the agreement, informal or otherwise, that he would ride for Froome at this year's Tour in return for Froome's support when he won last year. Clearly, it looked like that to those close to Froome too, with Michelle Cound, Froome's partner, calling on Brailsford to sort things out. This he has now done. Up to a point.
“We're in a fantastic position - we have two of the best GC riders in the world and they are both great racers with a competitive will to win,” said the Team Sky boss.
“Since the start of season, Bradley's performance plan has focused around training specifically to try and win the Giro and then ride the Tour, whilst Chris’ has been focused on attempting to win the Tour.
“Now we're here - the Giro has started and Bradley has done a brilliant job of getting in the best-possible condition for his assault on the race,” he told the Team Sky website.
“Everyone here is 100% focused on this race and the next three weeks,” he added.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.