Bradley Wiggins has warned riders who are targeting the Tour de France this summer not to underestimate his former team mate and rival Chris Froome, who is seeking a record-equalling fifth overall win in the race.
According to Wiggins – who in 2012 became the first British winner of the race – Froome’s switch to Israel Start-Up Nation will take pressure off the four-time winner.
In his Eurosport podcast, Wiggins said: “I think that is probably what he needs at this stage of his career.
“The race has changed so much, just in the last two years, the riders that are capable of doing well.
“The structure of the Tour de France has changed over the last few years as well. The way they race it, it's very close until the last stages.
“I think it's going to be difficult for him, but it is never easy winning the Tour de France, so he is going to have a job on.
“We're probably going to have to see a bit more from him than we have up to this point, a bit more of a performance.
“He is an amazing athlete and he has certainly got something left in him, otherwise he would not be racing I don't think,” Wiggins added.
Froome won the yellow jersey at the Tour de France for four out of five years between 2013 and 2017, the exception being 2014 when he succumbed to injury in the first week, Vincenzo Nibali going on to win the race.
In 2018, after losing time early on, he eventually played a supporting role to team mate Geraint Thomas, who became the first Welshman to win the race.
The following year, Froome missed the race due to the horrific injuries he sustained when he crashed in a reconnaissance of the time trial course at the Criterium du Dauphiné.
The 35-year-old – who has also won the Vuelta twice, and the Giro d’Italia – was left out of the Ineos Grenadiers squad for last year’s Tour de France, and it emerged shortly afterwards that he would be switching teams.
Wiggins also spoke about what he described as a “shocking disparity” between the genders in the sport.
Speaking about UCI president David Lappartient, he said: “We haven’t seen him since the Tour de France last year, and he said within two years they were hopeful of having a women’s Tour de France, but we don’t know what it’s going to be called yet.
“We’re getting to March already, the Tour de France is a couple of months away, so it will be one year.
“I can pre-empt this now getting pushed aside and going, ‘We’re still not in a position to have a women’s Tour de France next year,’ which is all it is now,” he added.
Organising a women’s Tour de France is not exclusively within the UCI’s remit, however.
ASO – the owners of the men’s race – said last year that they are considering launching an eight-day women’s version of the event.
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.