Froome’s new Tour opponent: Le Journal du Dimanche
Cycling journalist Daniel Friebe made an insightful comment today on twitter about Chris Froome’s toughest opponents for the Tour de France.
Alberto Contador headed the list but the next two names were the surprise: Le Journal du Dimanche and Le Monde. Yes, two newspapers trump Nibali and Tejay van Garderen. (On occasion, the pen is mightier than the pedal.)
Le Journal du Dimanche was the newspaper that broke the story about Froome’s fast-track TUE approval from the UCI during the Tour of Romandie. They followed up by stating that WADA was unhappy with how the UCI handled the matter and that story is still crackling.
What Friebe pointed out was that once again Froome can expect extremely close, potentially accusatory scrutiny at the Tour de France. That’s in addition to the vocal criticism just handed out from Armstrong killer and anti-doping bulldog David Walsh at the Sunday Times.
That Friebe tweet is also just another nail in the coffin for Bradley Wiggins and his shrunken chances of making the Sky Tour de France roster. In the media pressure-cooker of Le Tour, a team has to be cohesive and 100% focused and supportive of their captain Froome. Team camaraderie is high up on the selection criteria.
While Wiggins has repeatedly said he’d play a support role, there’s little doubt after the recent publication of Froome’s book The Climb, that the South African doesn’t trust Sir Brad.
Once journalists begin firing the doping questions, a loose cannon like Wiggins is dynamite with lit fuse — will he blow up like he did in 2012, spewing obscenities and pissing people off? Team manager David Brailsford would rather have Sergio Henao — shattered knee cap and all — take the roster slot than run the risk of Wiggins going rogue, off-script, stirring up controversy and distracting the team.
Wiggins had already made Brailsford’s decision easier by contracting a cold at the Tour de Suisse and then abandoning after a bad crash on stage four that caused significant bruising of his right thigh. Now, with Le Journal du Dimanche and David Walsh questioning Sky’s commitment to ethical racing, well, it seems even more likely that he’ll be watching the Tour from a distance, media silent.
Then again, who really knows for sure? This is a tangled game of high stakes poker between Brailsford and Froome and we won’t know the truth about those back-room negations for another few years.
It seems obvious based on the published excerpts of the Climb, that Froome has become more aggressive — and public — in dealing with both Brailsford and Wiggins. In our opinion, he went out of his way to torpedo Wiggo by releasing the book just before the Tour roster selections.
The quotes about Brailsford and his promises were pointed to say the least — “Dave’s approach was rather like a character in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass,” Froome says. “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – ‘neither more nor less’. My understanding was that I would go to the Tour as a protected rider but the details were never teased out. Dave’s words would mean just what he chose them to mean.”
One thing that both Froome and Brailsford can agree on is that it’s going to be a hotly contested Tour de France. Contador is back, Nibali claims he’ll be ready, and the boys at Le Journal du Dimanche, Le Monde and Sunday Times are itching for a battle.