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Thomas leading could cause issues: Wiggins

 

By Matt McGeechan

Bradley Wiggins has claimed Team Sky will have a "real problem on their hands" if Geraint Thomas takes the yellow jersey in the Tour de France ahead of Chris Froome.

Thomas sits second to Greg van Avermaet in the general classification after nine stages, 43 seconds off yellow and 59 seconds ahead of Froome as the race heads towards the Alps.

Though Sky have insisted Froome remains the team leader, Thomas has been given licence to race for himself through the first part of the Tour, and 2012 winner Wiggins foresees trouble if he remains ahead.

"This is where it gets difficult, as we hit first mountain stage," the ex-Sky rider said on Eurosport's The Bradley Wiggins Show.

"If Geraint stays where he is and takes the yellow jersey they've got a real problem on their hands."

Riding as his domestique, Froome finished second to Wiggins in 2012, and famously appeared to attack his team leader on La Toussuire on stage 11 before sitting up and waiting for him - a moment interpreted as Froome showing he was strong enough to win on his own.

Wiggins said that Sir Dave Brailsford would be "in the ears" of both riders telling them they can win the Tour in order to keep them motivated, suggesting the team principal can be "divisive" and "self-serving" at such times.

"Does Dave B come in and do his usual and be quite divisive and get in each other's ear and kind of keep them both motivated for the same goal and there be a natural selection?

"Dave will certainly be in both of their ears and be telling them they can both win it, as a way of motivating them, as a way of playing these cards deep into the race and let the natural selections come in to play."

Wiggins added of Brailsford: "He's quite self-serving. For him, it's about the team winning, it's not about the individuals or the characters."

By keeping Thomas close to the front, Sky are giving themselves a back-up option for Froome, who is attempting to become the first man to do the Giro-Tour double since 1998, and win a fourth consecutive Grand Tour.

Though some expect the Giro d'Italia to catch up with the 33-year-old in the mountains, Wiggins does not expect Froome to easily accept a supporting role given he is hunting what would be a record-equalling fifth Tour victory.

"If Chris is feeling really good, it's going to be tough for him to sit there with that record on the horizon," Wiggins said.

The Tour will head straight into the Alps after yesterday's rest day, with today's stage 10 taking the peloton over four categorised climbs in 158.5km of racing between Annecy and Le Grand-Bornand.

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