Cycling - Wiggins keeps leadership options open for Tour de France

Sir Bradley Wiggins admits the defence of his Tour de France title - and who becomes Team Sky’s lead rider - could rest on the outcome of the Giro d’Italia.

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Bradley Wiggins (L) and team-mate Christopher Froome (R) arrive at the finish line of the 17th stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Peyragudes, July 19, 2012 (Reuters)

British team-mate Chris Froome, last year's Tour runner-up, has made no secret of his intention to lead an assault on the Tour as the number one rider and last week tasted victory in the Tour de Romandie – echoing Wiggins’ achievements 12 months ago.

But four-time Olympic gold medallist Wiggins feels the leadership decision may come well into the race.

“The Giro outcome will dictate the role I play,” said Wiggins, who insisted team chief Sir Dave Brailsford will ultimately make the decision.

“You always plan for best-case scenario and at this stage, I win the Giro and come out of it healthy and we do the training camp in between the tour.

“Chris continues his recent preparations and he ends up winning the Dauphine and we both arrive at the Tour in the best possible way, then Dave has got to make a call about who is the leader on that.

“All being well, it may be we both end up joint-leaders for that first week until the racing decides who the leader becomes.

“It might be that we stay in contention until that first week and Chris wins that first mountain stage, takes the yellow jersey, and there’s a natural hierarchy there.

“In that case, I’ll try and finish second like he did last year. That’s an ideal scenario, but it might not happen.”

Wiggins is preparing to try and become the first Briton to win the Giro, as well as complete a rare double of winning both Grand Tours, emulating the achievement of his boyhood hero Miguel Indurain.

But, while he admitted he is training is for both races, he insisted his mental focus is only on the Giro, which starts in Naples on Saturday.

“I don’t look beyond the Giro – that’s the first big hurdle,” said Wiggins.

“Everything we’re doing now is geared towards this weekend and the physical aspects of that take care of itself for the Tour.

“Doing the Giro, minus crashes and illnesses, will pretty much replicate what we’d end up doing for the Tour at our prearation camp in Tenerife.

“Although the training is to do both back-to-back, mentally the focus hasn’t left the Giro. There will be disappointment if I don’t do it because I’ve been building to this."

However, Froome, who won time trial bronze for Team GB at last year's Olympics, insists he still expects the full support of the team in his bid to upgrade last year's runner's up position.

"There has been much speculation regarding the leadership for Team Sky at the Tour de France this year. I have made it clear that winning the Tour would be my main objective for 2013," he said.

"I have been reassured by the management at Team Sky that I have their full backing and at no time has the leadership of the Tour team been in question. Attempting to win the Tour de France is a massive undertaking, and will take total commitment from each and every team member.

"The Tour team has yet to be selected but with the depth of talent that we have at Team Sky, I have no doubt that the strongest and most willing riders will be there to support me.

"Confidence is high in the camp following the success at the Tour de Romandie. This week I will be doing a recon of the Mont Ventoux summit finish which could be a critical stage of this years Tour de France. A group of us will be going to Tenerife next week to continue training at altitude in our build up to the Tour."

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