Team Sky have officially confirmed that Sir Bradley Wiggins will not be in their team for this year's Tour de France, according to Sky's Team Princiapal, Sir Dave Brailsford a knee problem has prevented Wiggins from training to the intensity required for him to be fit enough for either the Dauphine or the Tour de Suisse - both crucial preparation races for Sky's Tour Squad. I
In a statement released by the team this afternoon Brailsford, Wiggins and the team's doctor, Richard Freeman all explained the situation:
Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford today confirmed; “With illness, injury and treatment Brad has gone past the point where he can be ready for the Tour. It’s a big loss but, given these circumstances, we won’t consider him for selection.”
“He hasn’t been able to train hard since the Giro and now he needs further rest. Whilst we all know these things happen in sport, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a huge disappointment for everyone in the team – and above all for Brad.
‘”It’s incredibly sad to have the reigning champion at Team Sky but not lining up at the Tour. But he’s a champion, a formidable athlete and will come back winning as he has before”
Sir Bradley Wiggins said; “It’s a huge disappointment not to make the Tour. I desperately wanted be there, for the team and for all the fans along the way - but It’s not going to happen.
“I can’t train the way I need to train and I’m not going to be ready. Once you accept that, it’s almost a relief not having to worry about the injury and the race against time.
“I’ve been through this before, when I broke my collarbone, so I know how it works. I’ll get this sorted, set new goals for this season and focus on those.”
“This team has so many riders in great shape, ready for selection and we set incredible standards for performance which shouldn’t be compromised. We need to have the best chance to win.”
Team Doctor Richard Freeman, said; “The chest infection that caused his withdrawal from the Giro has responded to treatment and rest. It has completely cleared up.
“However, further medical investigations on the knee injury that we were managing at the Giro showed the condition was more significant than we thought.
“It’s needed intensive treatment and, whilst it will be fully resolved, Bradley now needs to rest completely for five days before a gradual, return to full training over a period of two to three weeks.”
News that Wiggins' Tour particiaption was in doubt was revealed earlier today by The Guardian's William Fotheringham, to whom Brailsford revealed that a problem, thought to be caused by too much play in Wiggins' left pedal had caused inflammation to the riders' left knee which was and was stopping him from training at full intensity.
Every cloud has a silver lining though and the news that Wiggins might not make the Tour solves the looming headache of accommodating both him and designated team leader for the race, Chris Froome, in the same team. Wiggins has made no secret of his desire, if form allows, to defend his title - earlier this year he even floated the idea that Sky might ride this year's Tour with two team leaders a suggestion promptly shot down by Brailsford.
It also has to be said that a number of Sky watchers had been predicting an 'injury' ruling Wiggins out of the Tour following his comments after leaving the Giro that he would now focus on the Tour. That, the theory went, would solve the Wiggins/Froome conundrum and avoid the embarrassment of appearing to show lack of respect for the race by leaving the defending champion at home for the start of the Tour's 100th edition.
Wiggins had returned to training after recovering from the chest infection that forced him out of the Giro d'Italia ahead of stage 13 earlier this month, his teammate Rigoberto Uran, who had been riding in support of the Briton went on to claim second place in the race.
Brailsford said that the knee problem was not related to Wiggin's crash on stage 7 of the race - after which Wiggins was seen holding an icepack to his bruised knee - but that was his right one. Instead the problem is being ascribed to too much play or float in his pedal. Although Team Sky are sponsored by Shimano Wiggins uses Speedplay pedals - which offer a much greater level of float than Shimano. Ironically that extra float is something that particularly attracts riders with knee problems.
Sir Dave's assertion that there may have been too much play in Wiggins' pedal will raise some eyebrows. The amount of float on a Speedplay can be adjusted to suit and most riders will know exactly how much adjustment their pedals require - certainly pros who ride prodigous mileages and as a result are fanatical about the set up of their bikes and their pedals. It seems unlikely that this detail would not have been known to whoever set up Sir Bradley's pedals at the Giro - which according to the Guardian report is when Wiggins started to complain about knee pain, unless of course something has changed inside his knee. In most cases problems with pedal set up is instantly noticeable and indeed painful - pedal problems aren't usually a slow burner general wear and tear however can be.
Sir Bradley has not been named in Team Sky's squad for the Dauphine Libere stage race which starts this Sunday and which he won the last two editions of. The race (along with the Tour de Suisse) is often seen as a warm up for the main Tour contenders often featuring some of the same climbs as the Tour will race over six weeks later.
However, given that he was targeting the Giro it is unlikely that he would have been in Sky's original plans for this race, and even though Wiggins only rode half the Italian grand tour, he also had a chest infection and the after affects of his Giro crashes to recover from before getting in the frame for this race.
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