It was announced last week that the 2014 Tour de France will be coming to Cambridge. After the Grand Départ of the race in Yorkshire, the third stage will begin at Parker’s Piece with the riders racing to London, before they catch the Eurostar to France to complete the rest of the race. While much of the focus will be on whether Chris Froome can defend his title and make it three British wins in a row, the question also remains over whether or not Bradley Wiggins will be among the riders lined up at the start line in Cambridge next July.
The animosity between Froome and Wiggins has been widely documented. Froome’s decision to attack Wiggins in the Alps in the 2012 Tour did not go down well with his teammate, who reportedly did not send Froome so much as a ‘well done’ text after his Tour de France victory this summer. Furthermore, there has been much speculation that the reason Wiggins did not race the 2013 Tour was not because of the ‘knee injury’ cited by Team Sky, but because he was not prepared to work in a team that had Chris Froome as its leader.
It is the unique team dynamics within cycling that make such a personal rivalry so significant. Although cycling is fundamentally a team sport, unlike in football or rugby it is usually the individual that receives all the glory. Team members are expected to sacrifice their own personal ambitions in order to help guide the designated team leader to victory. However, as has occurred with Wiggins and Froome, this creates problems if a situation arises where a rider is unwilling to compromise their own chances for a man whom he doesn’t get on with, or whom he thinks he is personally better than.
Based on merit alone, Wiggins undoubtedly deserves a place in the team, particularly if he can rediscover the sort of form he had in his all-conquering 2012. However, whether he is willing to put himself on the line to work for Chris Froome remains to be seen.