Former Team Sky sports director Sean Yates, who guided Sir Bradley Wiggins to Tour de France victory in 2012, has accused Chris Froome of going “back on his word” for his attack on his team leader during the race.
In what remains one of the most memorable episodes of Team Sky’s decade in the peloton, Froome attacked 4 kilometres from the end of Stage 12, which finished at La Toussuire, and only eased up when ordered to do so by Yates, who said in a book published the following year that Wiggins nearly quit the race as a result.
Yates was asked about the incident when he appeared as a guest on the latest episode of The Bradley Wiggins Show podcast on Eurosport.
Wiggins, replying first, said: “I don’t think I’d packed my bags. But it can’t go on like this for two weeks. I thought we were all on the same page, if it carries on like this I’ll just go home.
“I took so much stick the year before for failing and I’m starting to get it right, I’m leading the Tour by 2 minutes so then we had someone shooting bullets in a different direction to what we were doing.
“It’s just trying to understand the situation. All these guys, Richie [Porte], Mick [Rogers], they’d all sacrificed their chances for us to win the Tour,” he continued.
“I was leading by 2 minutes, it wasn’t part of the plan, I was kind of going, ‘What’s going on?’ I couldn’t understand the situation, more than anything.”
Yates said: “There’s definitely truth in it, Bradley was so focused, it’s a fine line when you’re that focused, that motivated, it can kick either way easily, some more easily than others.
“Like Bradley said, for me Froome went back on his word and for me, he’s not a guy I like for that reason. End of story.”
When the attack happened, Yates, speaking on the radio from the team car, said, “Froomey, you’d better have Brad’s permission for that.”
Reminded of that communication with the rider, Yates said: “Yes because obviously it wasn’t part of the plan. So I’m thinking, ‘Okay, maybe they had a chat between themselves and Brad said this is okay’, that’s obviously why I questioned him.
“But there was no conversation, it was not part of the plan.”
Wiggins added: “I think I spoke to him later and in his head he was trying to get more time on Nibali but in doing that he took his eye off the ball.”
Yates interjected: “But that wasn’t our priority. We had a plan and it suddenly got led astray.
“Okay, you can take it either way; either he was naïve and didn’t really mean it, this, that and the other.
“But when I think of what he’s done since, I think, ‘he’s not that naïve’, he did go back on his word, me, Bradley and Dave B were in the room in the back of the bus, we came to an agreement and he reneged on that agreement, end of story,” he added.
Last year, Froome spoke about the incident when he was interviewed on ex-Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg’s podcast, and said that he had issues trusting Wiggins as a result of the previous year’s Vuelta, where he finished second overall to Juan Jose Cobo (since disqualified due to an anti-doping rule violation), with his team leader third.
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.