• Tour de France

Wiggins almost quit 2012 Tour de France

ESPN staff
September 12, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Bradley Wiggins trails Chris Froome during the 11th stage of the 2012 Tour de France ... a day which almost ended with him walking out of the race © PA Photos
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Bradley Wiggins almost quit the 2012 Tour de France after being upset by the tactics of his Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome. He was eventually persuaded to stay and went on to win the race.

In his new book It's All About The Bike, Sean Yates, who was the sports director of the team and the man calling the shots at the time, revealed Wiggins sent him a text during the race which read: "I think it would be better for everyone if I went home."

Wiggins was shocked when Frome disregarded team orders on the 11th stage, and Yates said Wiggins "felt like Froomey had stabbed him in the back". Only the efforts of Yates and Sir Dave Brailsford, the team principal, talked him round to remaining in the race.

According to Yates, a plan had been agreed before the stage that Froome could attack in the last 500 metres of the climb but he repeatedly asked to be allowed to attack earlier. He was told he could not but even after that plan had been agreed, Froome was asking permission to attack earlier. "Right up to the morning of the stage, when we were on the bus, he was asking, 'What about five kilometres out?' No. 'Three kilometres?' No, Froomey."

All seemed to be going to plan until 4km from the line Froome attacked. "For a moment I couldn't believe it," Yates wrote. "'What the f***?' 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. There was no damage done in practical terms. We finished the stage with Froomey having moved up to second overall. However, I'd seen Brad's reaction and it was clear his head was spinning."

Yates said that he believed that even had Froome continued Wiggins had a sufficient lead to have allowed him to still win the Tour. "However, his mental state was always fragile, and that psychological blow could have been a knockout one."

He also compared Wiggins' reaction to what Lance Armstrong, a former team-mate and friend of his, would have done. "I think he would have snarled like a pitbull and chased them down before beating them to a pulp."

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