Sir Dave Brailsford says it is he, and not Chris Froome, who will decide the composition of the Team Sky line-up for next month’s Tour de France – and adds that Sir Bradley Wiggins may still be chosen for the race.
On Friday, Wiggins, winner of the race in 2012 told BBC Breakfast that barring injury or illness to defending Chris Froome, he would not be among the nine Sky riders at the Grand Départ in Yorkshire on 5 July.
While the relationship between Froome and Wiggins is known to be frosty, the revelation was greeted with dismay by many fans, and with Wiggins' high profile among the general public some also saw his apparent omission as a public relations mistake by Sky.
But David Walsh, writing in The Sunday Times [£], reports that team principal Brailsford said yesterday that the composition of the team had not yet been decided and he would only make a decision following the Critérium du Dauphiné, which Froome is riding, and Tour de Suisse, where Wiggins leads Sky’s challenge.
“Despite the impression that might have been created, the team for the Tour is not yet finalised. I will be the one making the decision on who is in the team,” Brailsford said.
He emphasised that neither Froome nor any other team member would have an influence on whether or not Wiggins is selected.
“I speak with our performance team. The riders can offer an opinion but they don’t select the team and never will,” he explained.
“We knew from last year that my job was to build a team around Chris Froome because he’s the rider most likely to win this year’s Tour de France. In building the team I have to take the group dynamic into consideration,” he said.
“Trust and harmony are important considerations and it’s a difficult decision. I’m not just talking about the harmony between Chris and Brad but harmony amongst all the riders and staff.
“People should be careful before thinking Chris is making decisions here. Chris is a great bike rider, he deserves to lead our team but ultimately he doesn’t pick the team. I do,” he added.
In April, former Team Sky coach Shane Sutton said he was unsure whether Wiggins would make the Tour de France team in support of Froome.
"That Tour team really is Froome's team – he's the current holder and there's a lot of faith in him at Team Sky," said Sutton, who is now technical director of British Cycling.
He continued: “They will put the best riders available on the grid for Chris to win the Tour come July and I'm not sure whether Brad is going to be on that list. Only Brad can say that by winning big races and showing the team he is worthy of his place."
In his response to those comments, Wiggins, who is close to Sutton, suggested that the man who last year succeeded him as Tour de France champion would have a big say in whether he would figure in the team.
He said: "I'll do everything possible to try and be there but, as Shane Sutton said, it is Chris's team and he'll have a big say in who he puts around him and who he's confident having in front of him in the mountains.
"I would love to be there. I've proved I've got the legs at the moment and I'm coming to where I need to be now, if I can just push on," added Wiggins, who has proved his form with a top ten finish at Paris-Roubaix and overall victory at the Tour of California.
Froome said last week that it would be a team decision as to whether Wiggins took part in the race, adding that if Sky needed a Plan B, he believed that Richie Porte would be the rider to fulfil that.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.