sport

Brailsford to make late Tour call

Dave Brailsford will wait until just before next year's Tour de France to decide whether Bradley Wiggins will lead Team Sky.

The other option is to adopt a two-pronged attack that also includes Chris Froome.

Wiggins rounded off a dream 2012 by winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at a glittering awards ceremony in London on Sunday night.

The enigmatic 32-year-old pedalled to gold in a captivating Olympic time trial on August 1, but his greatest achievement came just 10 days earlier when he became the first Briton to win the Tour de France in its 99-race history.

Fellow Team Sky rider Froome played a supporting role for Wiggins during the 2012 Tour but now hopes to win the race himself next year, which has left team general manager Brailsford with a conundrum.

Speaking before collecting his Coach of the Year award, Brailsford said he would wait until just before the Tour begins to make his decision on who should go for glory and who should play a supporting role within the team.

"The legs will do the talking," said Brailsford. "When we get there (the Tour de France) it's the guy with the best legs who will lead (the team).

"At this moment in time Chris is obviously focusing on the Tour and Bradley will do the Giro (d'Italia) and then the Tour.

"As you get close to the moment you see who is in form, who isn't in form and you make the decisions from there."

It had been expected that Wiggins would make way for Froome next summer, but the Olympic champion made his intentions clear last week when he said he wanted to reclaim his crown.

Brailsford has not ruled out the possibility of two leaders and claims both riders are more than capable of taking home the yellow jersey next summer.

"It's possible (to have two lead riders)," Brailsford added. "That can give you a great advantage.

"When you have two world-class athletes in a team it's a fantastic place to be.

"As long as Brad keeps the hunger, he can win it again. Physically he can certainly keep going for a few years so let's see how he gets on.

"Chris is younger, he is 27 years old. He is very, very ambitious and I think he has many years ahead of him. I am sure he can win a grand tour."

Froome followed up his second-place finish in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana by ending this year's Tour de France just one place behind Wiggins.

Today the Kenya-born star said he would be comfortable competing against his team-mate Wiggins for the yellow jersey.

"The team have a lot of confidence in me next year going for the yellow jersey so it's always better for us going with a two-pronged attack instead of hedging all our bets on one rider," Froome told BBC Sport.

"It would be hard for someone not to defend their title.

"He (Wiggins) is definitely going to go to the Tour with the aim of being the best possible. It is the team who have to decide how to manage that."

Last night defending his Tour de France crown was probably the furthest thing from Wiggins' mind.

The popular rider, a big fan of mod culture and Paul Weller, collected his award, took advantage of the free bar on offer at the ExCeL Arena, and then got up on stage to play guitar to The Jam's 'That's Entertainment' with the house band.

The Eccleston-based star, who also strummed along to Oasis' 'Wonderwall', described winning the award as his "greatest sporting achievement".

"Sports Personality is a bit of an institution in our household," he said.

"It's very hard to put into words what it means to win it. For Mo (Farah) not to get in the top three and to be ahead of Jess and Andy makes it probably my greatest sporting achievement because the other stuff you can control, but you can't control other people voting for you."

Lord Coe, who picked up the Lifetime Achievement award for his role in London 2012, had nothing but high praise for Wiggins' achievements this year.

"I think he has inspired a generation of people not just to go into cycling, but to go into sport (generally)," Coe said.