STANDISH, United Kingdom (AFP) — Bradley Wiggins on Monday claimed Team Sky could wait until the Tour de France is underway before deciding its team leader for the race.
Wiggins, 33, won the Tour, as well as a gold medal in the Olympic time trial, last year and starts his attempt to become the first Briton to win the Giro d’Italia in Naples on Saturday.
In November, team principal Dave Brailsford confirmed that Chris Froome, who completed a victory in the Tour de Romandie at the weekend, would be the team’s principal rider for the Tour de France.
Fellow Briton Froome finished second to Wiggins in last year’s Tour de France and angered his teammate by attacking on some of the mountain stages. Wiggins has refused to rule out attempting to become the first rider to win the Giro and the Tour since Marco Pantani in 1998.
But he said that that Brailsford will make the call in the days leading up to the start of the Tour, which begins on June 29.
The British rider also said he felt that a final decision may not even be taken until they are week into the race and will be down to a “natural hierarchy” that develops.
“It’s the three days before it that Dave will make a decision as to who we go with,” Wiggins said on Monday.
“Dave’s the man, he’s the guru. He will decide. The best-case scenario at this stage is I win the Giro, I come out of it, stay healthy, we do all the training camps that we do in between the Giro and the Tour.
“Chris’ preparations continue as they are, he ends up winning the Dauphine and we both arrive at the Tour ready to go in the best possible [shape]. And Dave’s got to make a call, somewhere there, as to who is the leader.
“At this stage, all being well, it may be that we end up joint leaders for that first week until the racing decides.
“Without racing against each other when we hit the mountains or whatever, the racing decides naturally who the leader becomes.
“It may be that we both stay in contention until that week, Chris wins the mountain stage, takes the yellow jersey in which case there is a natural hierarchy there and then I try and finish second as he did last year.
“That may not happen — there may be a clear-cut leader before you get there. We will see.”
The plans of Wiggins and Team Sky will dominate the agenda in the run-up to the start of the Tour, which not only begins on the Mediterranean island of Corsica for the first time, but is also the 100th edition of the famous race.
Wiggins, though, maintained that his key focus for 2013 was to win in Italy for the first time.
“The main thing is to win the Giro,” he added. “That’s the first hurdle. That’s the one really at this stage and I don’t look beyond that.
“It’s like the first gold medal in the Olympics.
“It’s been good doing them both but [the training is] only about post-Giro.
“At this stage it’s only been about the detail towards the Giro.”