Bradley Wiggins has once again changed his primary target in 2013 and will focus on winning the Giro d’Italia before supporting Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome at the Tour de France.
Having won the 2012 edition of the Tour, Wiggins set his sights on winning all three Grand Tours during his career, leaving the door open for Froome to lead Team Sky at the Tour, but the 32-year-old then changed tack.
However, Wiggins, who also won the London 2012 Olympic time trial last summer, now believes Froome will spearhead the Team Sky squad for the 100th edition of the Tour, which follows a more mountainous parcours than the 2012 race.
“I would love to win a second Tour, and if I get the chance to do it, not necessarily this season, that would be great,” Wiggins told l’Equipe, who stopped short of committing himself to the role of super-domestique.
“But it looks as if Chris will be the leader this year. That doesn’t mean I’ll be riding 200km a day on the front of the bunch for him. We will be there together as he was last year with me in the mountains.
“Something could happen to Chris… he could be sick, he could crash as it happened to me in 2011 when we ended up without a team leader.”
Froome finished second behind Wiggins in the 2012 Tour to complete a British one-two but an attack by the Kenyan-born rider on stage 11 raised questions over Froome’s loyalty.
“There won’t be any problem between me and Chris. No doubts about reciprocal loyalty. He was ready to win in 2012 if anything happened to me,” said Wiggins.
Wiggins has now changed his race programme to accommodate his earlier goal and will start his season at Challenge Majorca in early February before racing the Tour of Oman, Tour of Catalunya and Giro del Trentino.
Wiggins will then have a tilt at Liège–Bastogne–Liège Classic, the oldest one-day Classic on the calendar, to test his form ahead of the Giro – and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year believes claiming the maglia rosa could prove his biggest challenge to date.
“The Giro is my new challenge. It’s my inspiration. It’s the new fire burning inside me,” said Wiggins in a separate interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I think that to win it, in some ways, will be harder than winning the Tour.
“There will be some riders, I’m thinking of [Vincenzo] Nibali, better prepared than on the 2012 Tour, and who already know how to race a Giro to win it.”