One year ago, Bradley Wiggins was fighting to stay in contention for the Giro d'Italia victory but eventually succumbed to a series of crashes, nervous descents and ultimately a chest infection and a knee injury.
That meant the then defending Tour de France champion was unable to return to the grandest of grand tours to defend his title and Chris Froome – now freed from any leadership issues – won a comprehensive victory on the French roads while Wiggins was left questioning his motivation for racing.
A year later and Wiggins' situation has improved immensely. After securing his first win of the year at the Tour of California, the US' biggest stage race, the Briton can harbour realistic hope for a place on Team Sky's Tour de France team as Froome aims to win his second successive title.
As the Tour winner two years ago, Wiggins understandably wanted to defend his title and made a series of public statements about challenging Froome, who Sky had made team leader. There are no such remarks to be heard this time around as Wiggins will be happy to support Froome's bid.
"If I am fortunate enough to be in the Tour, it will be in support of Chris," Wiggins said after his win in California.
"Chris wants to win his second Tour and, as the defending champion, everyone understands that, including myself. Obviously I'd love to be on the start line in Britain, but I understand also that I've had an opportunity at the Tour and I took it.
“It's not just about being on the start line. It's about everyone doing a job, and Chris being confident in the team that he has. I understand that now."
And there is absolutely no doubt that Froome will lead Sky's Tour team come 5 July and race take-off in Leeds, England.
"The way Froome rode last year, he's definitely it – it's Froome for the Tour,” said Sky's directeur sportif, Kurt Asle Arvesen. “Bradley will be there to support Froome – if he [Wiggins] wants to go, if he's selected and if he's in good form."
It is believed that Team Sky have a shortlist of around 14 or 15 riders who are in contention for the Tour team.
The selection will be made after the final preparation race, the Criterium du Dauphine, and Wiggins' chances are reported to have grown after Sky's torrid spring. Ongoing disruptions in form of illness and injuries suffered by key members of the squad have made it difficult to make any judgement calls.
Chris Froome's strongest support rider in last year's Tour, Richie Porte, who was scheduled to lead Sky at the Giro but had to be pulled out, has had a poor season full of injuries and illness, while climbing domestique Peter Kennaugh also had to withdraw from the Giro due to illness.
If they are not ready for July, the argument for Wiggins' inclusion is strong.
The rider himself, however, has delivered the strongest case. He rode an impressive Paris-Roubaix after his one-day classic ability had been seriously questioned beforehand and his ninth raised more than a few eyebrows.
The Tour of California was the next big target for Wiggins and the former Tour de France winner delivered a victory and if he keeps up his form it will be difficult to exclude him from the team taking on the Tour de France come July.
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