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Froome: I'll lead Sky at Tour de France
The Team Sky leadership battle has taken a fresh twist ahead of the Tour de France after Chris Froome dismissed Sir Bradley Wiggins' hopes of a Giro-Tour double in 2013 and insisted that he will have the team's backing in France.
Froome played a crucial supporting role in Wiggins' 2012 triumph, finishing second as his team-mate became the first Briton to claim the Yellow Jersey in the race's history.
The Zimbabwe-born Briton's form during the race suggested that he was capable of mounting a challenge of his own, and after a stellar start to the season capped by victories at the Tour of Oman, the Criterium International and last week's Tour de Romandie, his claim to the role of team leader has never been stronger.
Froome was thought to have the backing of Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford, with Wiggins opting to target a second grand tour victory at the Giro d'Italia, which starts on Saturday. But Wiggins said on Monday that he plans to defend his Tour de France title as part of a Giro-Tour double, something achieved by only seven men in cycling history.
Despite Wiggins' announcement, Froome remains convinced he will be the lead rider at the 100th Tour de France.
"I have been reassured by the management at Team Sky that I have their full backing," Froome wrote in a statement. "At no time has the leadership of the Tour team been in question."
"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.
"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."