Wiggins backs Froome to retain title

Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Sir Bradley Wiggins.

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Sir Bradley Wiggins has billed defending champion Chris Froome as the man to beat in the Tour de France.

Wiggins’s expected omission from Team Sky’s nine-man group for the Tour was confirmed yesterday, coming barely 12 hours after he won his third national time-trial title with a blistering performance in Newport.

Instead of competing against the world’s best, 2012 Tour winner Wiggins will be back on the track preparing for a Commonwealth Games medal challenge alongside his England team-mates.

But he has no doubt that Froome, who fell heavily during the recent Criterium du Dauphine in France, is ready to reign again.

“We saw the best of Chris at the start of the Dauphine, then it looked like he was hampered by the crash,” said Wiggins.

“Chris, at the start of the Dauphine, in that form, it looks like no-one can touch him really.

“The Dauphine is always a funny one. Although it is the big test before the Tour, there is so much that can change in the three weeks afterwards and Chris’s form will probably be geared towards being the best in July.

“He is quite a strong character. He knows exactly what he needs to do.”

Wiggins, 34, had anticipated he would not be part of Team Sky’s plans, adding: “I think the team they are sending is an incredible team.

“I would have liked to have been there but at the same time, the squad is so strong now.”

Geraint Thomas, second in the time-trial on Thursday night, is favourite for the road race tomorrow.

Yorkshire cyclists Ben Swift, Scott Thwaites, Josh and Nathan Edmondson, Russell Downing, Adam Blythe, Graham Briggs, Tom Moses and Tom Bustard are also in the field, while Lizzie Armitstead defends her women’s title earlier in the day.

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