As the teams announce their lineups for the Tour de France, two major announcements in two days have provided storylines before the race is even underway.
Yesterday Trek Factory Racing confirmed that legendary rider Jens Voigt will ride for this year’s Tour as his final season. Voigt initially had announced via Twitter that he would miss the Tour in favor of other races. After a solid performance in the AMGEN Tour Of California, Voigt and the team reconsidered, and the announcement was made on Thursday that he would ride a final Tour.
This is a fantastic decision by Trek, as Voigt is not only a fan favorite but as a staunch anti-doping advocate, his presence is sorely needed in the sport. Despite having a great performance in least year’s Tour, it is only right that he ride his final Tour knowing it is his last one so that he may receive the accolades and celebration he deserves.
Conversely, Friday morning’s news raises a small eyebrow. Team Sky announced their lineup which is led by previous winner Chris Froome. Noticeably absent from the lineup is superstar rider Bradley Wiggins.
It’s hard to nail down exactly why Wiggins was left off of the lineup. He’s had a season riddled with injury and was in a nasty crash in last week’s Tour de Suisse. It’s easy to take a look at that and think that’s exactly what’s going on. However, Wiggins has already stated before the crash he didn’t expect to make the cut and as early as May there was speculation.
Wiggins will also skip the World Championships and only ride in the track events for this year’s Commonwealth Games.
The injuries Wiggins sustained are likely bad enough to keep him out of the Tour, but one has to wonder if this is a sigh of relief for Team Sky. Wiggins and Froome ride well together, yet rumor has it that they very much do not get along. It would be impossible to tell a champion like Wiggins to back off while Froome and Richie Porte take the lead. The team of Froome and Porte are much stronger than Wiggins and Froome.
There’s no conspiracy to it, however it’s obvious that his absence is a huge weight lifted from Team Sky’s shoulders.