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Froome not going Wiggins’ way, but taking tips all the same

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Mar. 5, 2013
  • Updated Mar. 6, 2013 at 1:18 PM EDT
Chris Froome, third from left, is learning to handle the weight of expectations and media appointments. Photo: D'Alberto-Ferrari | lapresse

SAN VINCENZO, Italy (VN) — Chris Froome (Sky) is not trying to go Bradley Wiggins’ way to the Tour de France with several major stage race wins. Instead, he is out to learn, and is doing so from the Tour champion himself.

Speaking at a press conference today in San Vincenzo, Italy, ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico, Froome said that, while many have drawn comparisons between his early-season performances in 2013 and those of Wiggins in 2012, it is not about the Wiggins’ way to the Tour, but “going the Sky way.”

Froome topped an all-star cast last month in the Tour of Oman. He won his first stage race as a professional by 27 seconds over Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).

Oman was the first and perhaps only race, depending on their Liège-Bastogne-Liège plans, that Froome and Wiggins will race together before the Tour. After winning the Tour last year, Wiggins is taking aim at the Giro d’Italia in May before making plans for July.

Froome said that the winning process at the Tour of Oman, particularly alongside Wiggins, was important for his goal of yellow in July.

“He’s actually been really great,” Froome said of Wiggins in Oman. “It’s great having his input, and he’s been through all this last year, having the team behind him, having that pressure, so it has been really good for me to have him by my side and in a way mentor me through this. … It’s only from someone like him who’s achieved so much that he’s able to help like that.”

Froome stepped into a position of importance thanks to his second overall in the Tour de France last year and narrow Vuelta a España miss in 2011. In Oman and today, on a rather dreary coastal day in Tuscany, journalists focused on Froome above his GC rivals — even Contador and home-country favorite Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Through his own experience and watching Wiggins, he is learning how to manage the attention.

“Off the bike, the biggest demands are commitments like this: press commitments and being the face of team, here to answer all the questions. I definitely wasn’t in this position last year, and will have to adjust to it and learn as year goes on,” Froome said. “Definitely after the Tour and Olympics last year, things have changed for me substantially, but not nearly to same level as Brad.
I’ve learned from Brad a few tips, like saying no to people.”

Froome passed 30 minutes in a press conference today with other Tirreno favorites, including Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) and Contador — rivals that he will face in four months at the Tour de France.

“The Race of the Two Seas” kicks off on Wednesday with a team time trial from San Vincenzo to Donoratico on the Tyrrhenian Coast. Froome explained that the mountaintop finish Saturday at Prati di Tivo was one of the reasons he decided to start the Italian race; that and a chance to go through the stage race process, as Wiggins did last year, ahead of the Tour de France.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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