(Reuters) - Team Sky have announced that Tour de France champion Chris Froome and 2012 winner Bradley Wiggins will race in different warm-up events ahead of this year’s race, which begins in Yorkshire next month.
The pair have a frosty relationship, and recent speculation has suggested that Wiggins, who was unable to defend his crown last year due to injury, may fail to make Sky’s Tour de France squad despite the 34-year-old saying he was happy to play second-fiddle.
Froome will defend his title at the Criterium du Dauphine, which starts on Sunday and is seen as a major marker ahead of the Tour de France, while Wiggins, who won the Tour of California last month, will start the Tour de Suisse which begins six days later.
“Both the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Suisse are WorldTour events and we are looking to perform in both races,” Sky principal Dave Brailsford said on the team website (www.teamsky.com).
“Bradley heads to Switzerland with a strong team after a great win in California and we’ve got the right group for the Dauphine, especially considering the nature of the course.”
Froome will be supported by Richie Porte, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Geraint Thomas and Xabier Zandio in a squad that is expected to be strong in the mountains, while Wiggins will team up with Joe Dombrowski, Christian Knees, Luke Rowe, Dario Cataldo, Philip Deignan, Ben Swift and Pete Kennaugh.
“Both of these races will form part of our selection for the Tour” Brailsford added.
“We have to name 13 riders in a long list during June and we’ll do that from across the squad, including riders at the Route du Sud, not only those in the Dauphine and Tour de Suisse groups.”
Sky are aiming for a fourth consecutive Dauphine title.
Kenya-born Froome suggested on Monday that he would prefer Australian Porte as his number two as he seeks to defend his Tour de France yellow jersey.
“Talking about a Plan B, that’s a decision the team needs to come to, and Bradley has been talking about playing a support role, not being our Plan B as such,” Froome, 29, told the Daily Mirror newspaper.
”Richie is looking pretty good at the moment and has the potential to be riding for a place on the podium.
”As far as Bradley is concerned, the final nine riders selected to start the race in Yorkshire is a hot topic.
“That’s going to come down to what is best for the team, who is best for each role and the team dynamics.”
Porte, 29, played a key support role in Froome’s Tour de France victory, acting as his main climbing deputy in the major mountain stages.
Reporting by Josh Reich; editing by Amlan Chakraborty