Tour de France champion Chris Froome says he’s ready to defend his title and insists he had no say in Sir Bradley Wiggins’ exclusion from Team Sky’s line-up from the race.
Speaking to the press in Leedds yesterday ahead of Saturday’s Grand Départ, Froome said he had made a full recovery from the injuries he sustained in a crash while leading the Critérium du Dauphiné, which caused him to lose time to rival Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo in the following days. The race was won by Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp.
“I’m more or less recovered,” he said. “It definitely was a knock to me. It did take me a while to start feeling normal again on a bike after that crash. I’m confident that’s behind me now.”
He also maintained he had nothing to do with Wiggins’ absence from the race, saying: “Just to make it absolutely clear I do not have a role in selection.
“I do speak to [team principal] Dave Brailsford about generally the group of guys I’ve been racing with, but if you look at how a Tour team is generally selected, the guys doing a Tour will be doing altitude camps together quite early on in the season, racing together as a group.”
Wiggins and Froome have not raced together for almost 18 months, and last trained together on Mallorca at the start of this year.
Froome went on: “It would definitely change the dynamic of the team having Bradley on the team, but that’s bike racing; you’re not always going to be best friends with everyone on the team all the time.”
He also gave his reaction to yesterday’s news that Orica-GreenEdge’s Daryl Impey, his former Barloworld team mate and the man he took the yellow jersey from on Stage 8 of last year’s Tour, had tested positive for a banned diuretic that can be used as a masking agent.
Impey insists that he has never knowingly used the drug in question, Probenecid, nor any other banned substance.
Froome was himself the subject of controversy last month due to the issue to him of a therapeutic use exemption for a glucocorticosteroid during this year’s Tour de Romandie and his user of an inhaler during the Critérium du Dauphiné.
He said: “I did send him [Impey] a message when I found out this morning.
“I just said I was really shocked to read the news. And I hope things get resolved. Obviously I don’t really know the details of the case.
“I don’t know if it is something that can be resolved on his side or if it is 100% definite.
“Knowing Daryl’s character he has always been very outspoken against doping so it is a big shock to me.”
Meanwhile Team Sky and Jaguar have issued a teaser video for what they claim is a “world first” undertaken by Froome.
In the description, Sky says: “There's not many 'world first' achievements anymore, but we're delighted to say we've managed one with a little help from our friends at Jaguar. Can you guess what it is? Find out more on Monday 7 July...”
That’s the final day of the Tour’s visit to England before it heads back to France… and that does look very much like the Channel Tunnel’s service tunnel that Froome is about to ride through.
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