Chris Froome will have to put his reported in-house quarrel with with Team Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins to one side and focus all his attention on beating Alberto Contador at the Criterium du Dauphiné.
Froome has been somewhat critical of Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner, in a series of interviews and most recently in the serialisation of his autobiography by a British newspaper.
Froome, the current Tour champion, who won the race in 2013 without Wiggins' help, has questioned Wiggins' mental strength on the 2012 Tour as well as blasting him for changing mood during the same tour.
Wiggins has ridden strongly in the spring season, finishing ninth in the one-day Paris-Roubaix race before winning the Tour of California in impressive fashion, but doubts have remained over his spot in Sky's Tour de France squad as Froome is believed to have a big say in the selection.
The 34-year-old Briton, however, broke ranks earlier this week and announced that he would not be riding the Tour – scheduled to take off in England early next month – claiming he was “gutted” to miss out.
And Froome now needs to forget whatever dispute there is with Wiggins and focus on the one rider who is most likely to stand between him and his second successive Tour victory, Tinkoff – Saxo's Alberto Contador, writes supersport.com.
The Spaniard climber has showcased excellent form, adding second-place finishes at the Tour of the Algarve and Tour of Catalunya to his wins at Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of the Basque Country.
Meanwhile, Froome has been solid despite injury and illness disrupting much of his season, winning the Tour of Oman and the Tour of Romandie.
Froome, Contador and other Tour contenders such as Italy's Vincenzo Nibali will use the Dauphiné as the final warm-up race before the start of the Tour. It will also provide the perfect measure of the form of the favourites.
As with many stage races, not least the Tour, the Dauphiné will be won and lost in the mountains with the Alpine stages of the final weekend looking particularly exciting. The seventh and penultimate stage ending with the summit finish at Emosson features a 10.2 kilometre climb and will be mouthwatering.
Team Sky's Tour favourite has not raced since the Tour of Romandie win a month ago while Contador has been absent since the Tour of the Basque Country in April. As with Nibali, the pair has focused on altitude training in the mountains, preparing for the epic climbs of the Tour.
A year ago, Froome cemented his position as the Tour favourite by winning the Dauphiné and he has said that he is approaching this year's race in the form of his life, free from any niggling injuries.
He has certainly backed up his claims thus far, winning both the prologue and stage two to take a 12 second lead over second-placed Contador. Froome showed his growing prowess in the time trial on Sunday before making sure everyone knew he is still the best climber, riding away from the pack to a summit finish on stage two.
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