Sir Bradley Wiggins has expressed his disappointment after conceding he is unlikely to race this year’s Tour de France.
The 2012 champion accepts he will not be on the start line in Leeds in four weeks because Team Sky’s squad has room for only one leader – Chris Froome.
Froome and Wiggins were last week selected to compete in separate Tour warm-up races in the clearest indication yet that Wiggins would not line up in Yorkshire on July 5.
Only an injury to Froome in the Criterium du Dauphine, which begins tomorrow, would see Wiggins restored to the line-up as leader.
“As it stands, I won’t be there,” said Wiggins, who was the first Briton to win the race two years ago. “The team is focused around Chris Froome. I am gutted. I’ve worked extremely hard for this throughout the winter and up to the summer. I feel I am in the form I was two years ago.
“I also understand that cycling is a team sport and it is all about Team Sky winning and Chris is defending champion.”
Wiggins, who has been told by Sky to concentrate on the track in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, added that he may have to leave the British squad if he is to race the Tour de France again.
“Having missed it this year on the form I’m in at the moment, then the likelihood is that I’ll probably miss out again next year,” said the 34-year-old, who was not part of Sky’s four-man reconnaissance team led by Froome which visited Yorkshire last week.
“So, if I want to go back to the Tour, I might have to start accepting the reality that I have to change teams.
“I’ve spoken to a few people. I have to explore my options, but at this stage I’ve just been focusing so much on the training that you kind of let the people dealing with the contracts deal with those.”
Wiggins has been in good form following a below-par 2013 campaign. He won the Tour of California in May and placed an impressive ninth in the one-day classic Paris-Roubaix, held over the cobbles of northern France, which will feature in a key fifth stage of this year’s Tour.
“To be honest, I’ve had my doubts since April,” admitted the seven-time Olympic medallist.
“After Roubaix, I had a bit of hope but then after California, I knew that (my team-mates) would be going to altitude, but I would not be involved.
“The plan was that Chris and I would both do the Tour, Chris would be the leader and I wanted to play a supporting role.
“As a former winner, with the Grand Depart in Great Britain, it would have been great to be there, but at the same time they have built a team and you could make an argument for each of the riders compared with me.
“So it’s disappointing for me personally, but you can see why they have chosen this team.”
While Wiggins looks set to miss out, Yorkshire’s Scott Thwaites has one last chance to prove he is worthy of selection for the Tour de France.
The 24-year-old from Burley-in-Wharfedale is part of NetApp Endura’s squad for the Dauphine in what he acknowledges is his final audition for the German team, who are making their Tour debut.
Thwaites, a strong Classics rider, was named by NetApp on their 14-man long list for the Tour which will be whittled down to a final nine on June 23.
He said: “The reason they’ve put me into the Dauphine is to give me the best opportunity possible and it’s now down to me to show I’m worthy of Tour selection.
“Being included on the long list was another indication that they’re giving me every chance to make the Tour team.
“It’s nice that the team have shown faith in me.”
Thwaites is confident he is not in the running purely because he is a Yorkshireman, whose presence on stages one and two would be good publicity for a team that would otherwise operate under the radar.
“I don’t expect any favours,” said Thwaites. “On the media side it would be good but the team want to win stages. There’s no room for sentiment. I’ve known that from the start. I’ve not relied on being the lad from Yorkshire. I’ve worked hard.”