Picture it. Tito Vilanova steps out for his pre-match press conference before the Champions League final and announces that Barcelona’s Argentine star Lionel Messi will be starting at centre-back. Crazy management or what?
What about Sir Dave Brailsford deciding not to have the man who took the cycling world by storm in 2012, Sir Bradley Wiggins, not attempt to defend his Tour de France crown? Almost as ridiculous, isn’t it?
The 49-year-old Team Sky General Manager has decided that Wiggins is not the team’s best bet for earning the team back-to-back Tour de France success. The 2012 edition of the race saw Wiggins dominate and become the first person to bring the coveted Yellow Jersey back to England.
So why has Brailsford decided not to have Sir Brad taking on the world again? The plain and simple answer is—he isn’t the best man for the job.
Wiggins’ number two, his right hand man and first lieutenant Chris Froome is set to take over as the leader of Team Sky at the 100th edition of the Tour. The Kenyan-born Brit had one of the greatest years in the history of British cycling in 2012, only to be eclipsed by Wiggins.
Froome chaperoned Wiggins through the peaks of the Alps last July, putting the finishing touches to a British one-two at the Tour. He was so dominating in the mountains he could have left his leader for dead, if he wasn’t ordered to slow the pace for Wiggins to keep up. The man from Kilburn would have been struggling up the ascents with his rivals if not for Froome.
The 2012 Tour may have been the pinnacle of his career, but Froome has carried his form into 2013. Impressive early season performances in Oman and Italy have led him to be a feared contender ahead of the grand tours.
The key to Wiggins’ success at the Tour was his time-trial prowess, which he displayed to perfection at London 2012. With the centenary edition of the route set as one of the most mountainous in the history with less emphasis on time-trials, the route simply isn’t right for him.
His climbing ability, although much improved in recent years, isn’t good enough to tackle these peaks at the pace required and there aren’t the TT miles for him to make up the time. Froome’s combined climbing and TT ability, bronze at London 2012, should prove to give him success in 2013.
With the return of Alberto Contador from his drugs ban, Andy Schleck from his hip injury and a stack of ever-improving Spanish athletes, this is the most open field in Tour de France history. On paper, Wiggins will be left for dead against climbers of this calibre.
Sorry Wiggo, it seems your skills have gone out of fashion as quickly as your sideburns did.