LONDON (Reuters) - Bradley Wiggins threatened to quit the 2012 Tour de France because of the aggressive riding of team mate Chris Froome, according to Team Sky’s former sports director Sean Yates.
Froome, who finished second overall to Wiggins before going on to win this year’s race, caused a storm when appearing to attack his team mate on a mountainous Stage 11 rather than help his British compatriot retain the yellow jersey.
Wiggins reacted later by sending a text message saying it would be “better for everyone if I went home”, according to Yates in his autobiography “It’s All About the Bike” which lifts the lid on the intricate relationship between the two riders.
“Froomey was keen to establish himself in second place overall and have a free hand,” Yates wrote in his book of the infamous climb up the Col de la Croix de Fer when Froome threatened to leave Wiggins trailing in his wake.
”(Team Sky general manager) Dave (Brailsford) and I wanted to stick to the original plan of Brad taking the yellow jersey all the way to Paris. Brad was obviously supportive of that. But wary of what could happen if Froomey was to ride off.
“We decided, without any ambiguity that Froomey would stay at Brad’s side until the last 500 metres, when he would be free to attack if he wished, the idea being that he could take time out of (Vicenzo) Nibali and (Cadel) Evans in the race for second without endangering Brad’s lead.”
What actually happened was that Froome accelerated with four kilometres to go with Wiggins obviously struggling to keep pace.
“For a moment I couldn’t believe it,” Yates wrote. ‘What the xxxx?’ I said. God knows what Brad thought, as he had been riding pretty close to his limit for the previous kilometre, believing that Froomey was spent.
“I made it pretty clear on the radio that this was NOT the plan and he had better wait. He did.”
The incident caused a media frenzy, according to Yates, and left Wiggins threatening to quit.
“I got back to my room and received a text from Brad reading ‘I think it would be better for everyone if I went home.’ I went straight to his room. He was upset and felt like Froomey had stabbed him in the back after the discussion we’d had before the stage. He couldn’t understand why he’s gone back on the agreement, especially with everything going so well.”
Yates said he and Brailsford had to talk Wiggins into remaining in the race which he eventually won to become the first British man to win the Tour de France.
Both riders in action at the Road World Championships in Italy this month where Wiggins is expected to go for the time trial title and Froome for the road race. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by John O‘Brien)