LONDON (AP) — Former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins expects to miss this year’s race, complaining that his team is focusing on his bitter rival and defending champion Chris Froome’s title defense.
Wiggins, who became the first British rider to win cycling’s showpiece two years ago, was not selected to compete with Froome at the Criterium du Dauphine, the tuneup event for the Tour. It was a clear indication that he was unlikely to line up in Yorkshire on July 5 for the Tour’s start in England.
Speaking to the BBC Breakfast program on Friday, the 34-year-old multiple Olympic gold medallist voiced his disappointment at being left out by Team Sky despite a recent surge in form and his victory at the Tour of California last month.
“I am gutted,” Wiggins said. “I feel I am in the form I was two years ago. Now if I want to go to the Tour again, the reality is that I might have to go elsewhere. I also understand that cycling is a team sport and it is all about Team Sky winning and Chris is defending champion.”
Wiggins’ contract with Sky expires at the end of the season.
Although Wiggins told French newspaper L’Equipe there is still a chance he may make the Tour if Froome picks up an injury at the Dauphine from June 8-15, it’s unlikely Wiggins will be riding in France this summer.
“Having missed the Tour again this year, I wouldn’t like to leave it there,” said the former pursuit specialist, who could now turn his focus on competing on the track at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, in August. “I’d love to go back at some point so there is the chance that I would go back to the Tour next year.”
Froome will warm up for the Tour at the Dauphine while Wiggins is still expected to compete at the Tour de Suisse.
Froome, who also won the weeklong Dauphine in France last year as part of his dominant season, will be surrounded by a team made of strong climbers in the mountainous event, including last year’s Dauphine runner-up Richie Porte, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Geraint Thomas and Xabier Zandio.
Froome and Wiggins have endured a frosty relationship over the past few years. Tensions first arose during the 2012 Tour, with Froome sometimes looking the stronger rider in the climbs but being ordered by the team to support Wiggins rather than attack.
Last year, after suggesting he would seek to defend his title and upset Sky’s plans of making Froome its leader, Wiggins missed the race because of health issues and Froome easily won the 100th edition of the race.
Froome recently said his relationship with Wiggins was back to normal, and Wiggins was adamant he would support his younger teammate if he was selected.