When Chris Froome stands victorious on the final podium of the Tour de France today, for some there will be a distinct sense of deja vu — and not just because this time last year he was standing in exactly the same spot, albeit one step lower than the winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins. Froome rides for the same team, after all, and the predictions that Froome would win the Tour began almost as soon as the team-mates had stepped off the Paris podium last July. It is true Froome’s journey to Britain’s and Sky’s second straight Tour win has featured key ingredients in common with Wiggins: most importantly a second menu of harsh, lengthy training camps at altitude in the Canaries and a season-long, consistently strong race condition through the spring. Like Wiggins in 2012, Froome has been unquestionably more on song than his rivals ever since he began piling up the wins in February, let alone during the Tour itself.
Instead, the differences between the 2013 and 2012 Tours for Sky have been in the level of team support that Froome has been able to rely on — much lower at some, but not all, points than Wiggins last year — and the level of aggression Froome has had to show in the mountains in order to win.
This has been a more open, unpredictable Tour, and instead of the lines of blue-black Sky troops which guided Wiggins over an umpteenth mountain pass (headed by Froome, and his key mountain wingman, Richie Porte) last year, this time round Froome has been much more isolated. And therefore more vulnerable to attack. Fate has not been on Sky’s side at times either. They have lost key riders through injury or exhaustion and had others on the back foot, such as Geraint Thomas, riding with a cracked pelvis.
Last year they lost Konstantsin Siutsou early on, but that was the extent of their injury list.       THE INDEPENDENT