Sir Bradley Wiggins has said that any team other than Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl would be “crazy” not to take Mark Cavendish to the Tour de France.
The Manxman, who was part of the Team Sky line-up that supported Wiggins in 2012 when he became the first British rider to win the race, looks set to miss out on the team’s sprinter spot to Fabio Jakobsen, barring the Dutch rider suffering illness or injury.
> Mark Cavendish unlikely to race Tour de France but promises to be ready if required
It was a last-minute injury to former team-mate Sam Bennett that led to Cavendish getting a call-up to the race 12 months ago, and he fully justified his selection, winning the points jersey for the second time in his career and drawing level with Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins at the race.
Wiggins, who now works as a pundit for Eurosport, said that team manager “Patrick [Lefevere] knows what he’s doing but from a personal point of view, it would be a real shame if Cav’s not there.
“Any other team would be crazy not to take him, he’s just won a stage of the Giro,” he continued.
“Aside from the personal relationship with him, I find it hard to see why you wouldn’t take Mark: from a performance point of view, for the sponsors, for the impact he has on other riders around him on the team and the fact that he won four stages last year and the green jersey.
“Why wouldn’t you take the defending green jersey back to the Tour de France? I can’t see anybody else on that team who would merit going ahead of him, personally.”
Of four-time winner Froome, who will line-up for Israel Premier Tech, Wiggins said: “He may surprise us all. GC may be beyond him, but it would be nice to see him up the road in a break and pull off a stage win.”
Wiggins also tipped Geraint Thomas, who last week won the Tour de Suisse, to challenge for the overall at the Tour.
Thomas – who missed the 2012 edition because he was training on the track for Team GB’s successful defence of the Olympic team pursuit title that he and Wiggins had helped win four years earlier in Beijing – became the third Briton to win the yellow jersey four years ago, when he took back to back stage wins in the Alps.
“Even though he might not have the physical attributes he had a couple of years ago when he won the Tour – as happens to us all – that recent win in the Tour de Suisse was incredible,” Wiggins said.
Defending champion Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates and his fellow Slovenian, Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic, are the two riders expected to mount the strongest challenge for the overall – something Wiggins believes could play to Thomas’s advantage.
“For sure, he’s in podium contention – and because of the real racer that Geraint is, if it gets down to a position where there’s a little bit of cat and mouse between UAE and Jumbo-Visma, he could slip into a move and surprise everyone," he explained.
Wiggins also said that his former team-mate Chris Froome, who succeeded him as Tour de France champion and went on to win the race three more times, but has never recaptured his form after a near-career-ending crash at the Dauphiné in 2019, could grab a stage win.
“He may surprise us all,” Wiggins said of the Israel-Premier Tech rider. “GC may be beyond him, but it would be nice to see him up the road in a break and pull off a stage win.”
The 109th edition of the Tour de France starts in Copenhagen next Friday with an individual time trial.
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