Bradley Wiggins to help Froome in Florence. Kinda sorta.
Big news: Bradley Wiggins still hates Chris Froome but wants to help him win the Worlds Road race.
We got a laugh out of that one because the headlines made it sound like Wiggins is willing to ride for Froome but all the Sir Brad quotes made it clear that he’s riding for Great Britain, not Froome, country, not hated teammate who supposedly stabbed him in the back on stage 11 up La Toussuire.
Cycling is a hard, hard sport and whatever Wiggins’ deep love of country, it sure helps to like the guy you’re killing yourself for so he wins. Something to do with digging deeper, giving that extra 5%, riding the front an extra 10k, chasing down a dangerous break because My Mate Froomey Just Has To Win!
Just don’t see that happening in Florence, Italy on Sunday, September 29th. That would be like lying hack UCI president Patrick McQuaid suddenly throwing his heart-felt support behind challenger Brian Cookson.
Whatever Wiggins says about Great Britain, we don’t see him giving anything extra for Froome. He was more than happy to ride for Cavendish as a friend and as payback for taking a backseat in the Tour de France, but not Froome.
And if you’re the British coach, you can forget about esprit de corps with the lads. Bradley will arrive, nod hello, “get on with it,” nod goodbye. And no, Brad and Chris won’t be doing the champagne toast, all smiles and bonhomie if Froome wins.
We like and respect Bradley Wiggins — he’s hilarious and honest and immensely talented — but he certainly hasn’t taken the high road with Froome. He has acted as if he was Greg Lemond and Froome was a nasty, double-crossing Bernard Hinault. The only difficulty is that nobody is cycling dislikes Chris Froome except for Wiggins.
We were at the US Pro Cycling Challenge in August for a Cycle Sport story on Sky and Froome in Colorado. I interviewed Josh Edmondson, Danny Pate, Konstantin Siutsou, Joe Dombrowski, Ian Boswell and Richie Porte about Froome. They couldn’t have been more effusive in their praise about him being a nice, genuine, down-to-earth guy.
Then we got twenty minutes with Froome after the Vail time trial and found him to be exactly as advertised. He shakes your hand, looks you in the eye, speaks softly, answers thoughtfully and shows zero sign of the existence of an ego.
Now, we can well understand Wiggins fury on that mountain in France over a year ago. To train that hard, to make so many painful personal and family sacrifices, to reach the most important goal of your sporting career, to be capable of becoming the first Brit to win the Tour de France, and then have your teammate suddenly accelerate away would have been infuriating.
And yet, Wiggins got his Tour win, won practically every race he entered, had a magical year and took the Olympic gold medal in the time trial in London. So why have one moment, one day of bitterness, continue to spray shit-mist over your life?
That attitude has marginalized Wiggins in a team that was built around him. His attitude on Froome has ridden him into a corner and off the road. A year later he can’t even enter the same races with Froome and talks of returning to the track. It feels like Mr. Crabby Pants still holding a grudge when everybody else is happy to move on and make amends.
We say good luck to Britain and Chris Froome in the World Championship Road Race in Florence but we wouldn’t be counting on anything extra from Sir Brad.