Updated: 17/07/2012 10:00 | By pa.press.net

Wiggins: Froome is team player



Bradley Wiggins, pictured, says his Team Sky colleague Chris Froome is loyal

Bradley Wiggins, pictured, says his Team Sky colleague Chris Froome is loyal

Bradley Wiggins has admitted Team Sky colleague Chris Froome would be his biggest rival for Tour de France glory - if the Britons were on rival teams.

After an eighth day in the race leader's yellow jersey was successfully negotiated, Wiggins faces five more to determine if he can become the first British winner of the Tour, in the 99th edition of the race.

When questioned, Wiggins gave short shrift to the interrogator who suggested Froome could be his main challenger. He said: "We're first and second on GC (the general classification). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work that out. He's my team-mate. We'll keep it like that."

Following the 158.5-kilometre 15th stage from Samatan to Pau, won by Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ-Bigmat), Froome was two minutes five seconds behind, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) 2mins 23secs adrift in third and defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) 3mins 19secs behind in fourth.

There has been much comment and speculation over Team Sky's tactics since Froome attacked on stage 11 to La Toussuire and Wiggins did not - or could not - go with him.

The Tour resumes following Tuesday's second rest day with Wednesday's 197-kilometre 16th stage from Pau to Bagners-de-Luchon, which is the first of two days in the Pyrenean mountains.

Some believe Froome, who finished second to Wiggins' third at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, is the superior climber and should be Team Sky's leader. The Kenya-born Brit, meanwhile, expressed a wish to be backed by Team Sky in 2013 if the Tour route is mountainous, as expected.

Froome insisted comments in the same L'Equipe article - suggesting he could win this Tour, but not with Team Sky - were misinterpreted and he remains fully committed in his support of Wiggins.

Froome said: "There were a lot of things taken out of context there. There's no bad blood in the team. We're still here with the same goal."

Wiggins knows his place on the top of the podium on Sunday is not yet secure and Saturday's penultimate-day 53.5km time-trial to Chartres will also be important. "There are gaps in the GC of course, and yes we are in a great position, but even the time-trial on Saturday could see gaps," said the 32-year-old triple Olympic champion.

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