Wiggins to ride Tour with best friend Froome.

Wiggins. A Froome fan?

Wiggins. A Froome fan?

Burning question: will Sky’s Chris Froome pay Bradley Wiggins his Tour de France bonus money if Froome wins in 2014?

That will be an amusing side question to ponder now that Sir Brad has definitively said he wants back in Le Grand Shindig and will happily ride for the man he thinks back-stabbed him in the 2012 Tour.

The Brad & Chris Show promises higher than ever ratings in the six month lead-up to the Tour depart in Yorkshire on July 5th.

According to Wiggins, all that water is under the bridge and life at Sky is good again, harmony and happiness restored. For anyone who has tracked Wiggin’s bitterness over the last year, that sounds like a tall tale.

Nevertheless, Sir Brad has his goals well-defined: “to be back in the Tour de France and back in the team, in whatever capacity, alongside the defending champion Chris.”

That’s Chris, as in, my buddy Chris, my best mate, my main man. Wiggins almost sounds ready to take up the Richie Porte role at Sky — he’s Froomey’s biggest supporter and most loyal domestique. Will he carry water bottles — will he slather sunscreen on Froome’s back when the sun burns though the South African’s transparent Sky jersey? Hmmm, TBD.

The ascendency of Chris Froome to top dog at Sky has created all sorts of drama and dilemmas for Wiggins. Once Froome won the 2013 Tour, the word out of France and England was that the entire team preferred riding for nice guy Froome as opposed to the aloof and enigmatic Wiggins.

In a Sky team that prides itself on a scientific approach to training and racing, Wiggins had suddenly become the worst sort of variable: the unpredictable one. Despite his long and close relationship with team boss David Brailsford, relations had become strained.

One year after his stirring and historic triumph in the 2012 Tour, the debate was what role — if any — Wiggins still had in the squad. He made it clear he had no great desire to ride for Froome and openly questioned whether he was committed enough to sacrifice family life for another run at the top end. He sounded lonely and lost and ready to return to his first love: the track.

That’s all old news, apparently.

Perhaps, Wiggins just feels backed into a corner with the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire, England — how can Sir Brad skip that show? “I’d love to be back at the Tour de France,” Wiggins told Sky Sports News. “I missed it last year and I was watching it on the TV. When you see it from the outside, you see just how great the Tour de France is.”

Great enough to bury the hatchet? That remains to be seen. Is Wiggins ready to abandon his family again for long training camps in Tenerife? Sky likes to keep their Tour squad together for most of the season — is Wiggins willing to spend that amount of quality time with Froome?

An interesting question pops up when reading Wiggins speak of his early season plans. “I want to get off to a flying start like I did in 2012. I want to be performing well all early season. I’ve got some good goals in the early season, with the Tour of California in May.”

The question forms because the Tour of California hasn’t been on Froome’s set of preparation races for the Tour de France. Does that mean that Wiggins will still run a separate program from Froome, only rejoining the core Tour group in June?

Would Froome elect to skip a training camp and also ride California? That seems highly unlikely as even Tejay van Garderen, the winner last year in California, is skipping it this year as he gears up for France. (As of right now, the only race Froome and Wiggins are both scheduled for is Milan-San Remo.)

By all accounts, the Brad & Chris Show enters a new season and harmony abounds. Still, we’ve got a long way to go before July. “Having two British winners at the Tour de France, with it starting in the UK will be quite an experience for us all,” said Wiggins.

Oh yeah — it will be quite an experience for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

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