Froome to defend title at Criterium du Dauphine - NBC Sports

Froome to defend title at Criterium du Dauphine
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June 4, 2014, 4:45 pm

LONDON -- Team Sky bitter rivals Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins will warm up for the Tour de France in different races.

Froome, the defending Tour champion, will put the finishing touches to his Tour preparation by competing at the Criterium du Dauphine from June 8-15, while Wiggins, the first British rider to win cycling's showpiece event two years ago, will use the Tour de Suisse as a tune-up.

Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford said he will use the Criterium and the Tour de Suisse to pick his final nine riders for the Tour, which starts in Yorkshire, England, on July 5.

"We have to name 13 riders in a long list during June, and we'll do that from across the squad, including riders at the Route du Sud, not only those in the Dauphine and Tour de Suisse groups," he said.

Froome, who also won the week-long Dauphine in France last year as part of his dominant season, will be surrounded by a team made of strong climbers in the mountainous event, including last year's Dauphine runner-up Richie Porte, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Geraint Thomas and Xabier Zandio.

Brailsford will also keep a close eye on his riders' performances in Switzerland, where Wiggins will be competing from June 14-22.

While there is no doubt about Froome's selection for the Tour, Wiggins' place in Sky's lineup is not guaranteed, despite the time-trial Olympic champion's recent surge in form and his victory at the Tour of California last month.

Froome and Wiggins have endured a frosty relationship over the last couple of years but are said to have buried the hatchet. Tensions between them first arose during the 2012 Tour, with Froome sometimes looking the stronger rider in the climbs but being thwarted by team orders to support Wiggins rather than try and attack him.

Last year, after suggesting he would seek to defend his title and upset Sky's plans of making Froome its leader, Wiggins missed the race because of health issues and Froome easily won the 100th edition of the race.

But Froome recently said his relationship with Wiggins was back to normal, and Wiggins was adamant he would support his younger teammate if he was selected. However, it remains to be seen whether the two champions can cohabit during three weeks on the road if they both make the cut.

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