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Chris Froome in the ascendancy as Bradley Wiggins shunted to the periphery of Team Sky and axed from Tour de France roster

Bradley Wiggins may be disappointed by his omission from Team Sky's Tour de France roster, but he is unlikely to be surprised.

Chris Froome is now the unequivocal No 1 at Team Sky following the decision to axe Bradley Wiggins from the Tour de France roster Photograph: Getty
Chris Froome is now the unequivocal No 1 at Team Sky following the decision to axe Bradley Wiggins from the Tour de France roster Photograph: Getty

Dave Brailsford's reputation for being unflinchingly brutal when it comes to selection decisions is well known within British Cycling.

Wiggins' barely-concealed feud with defending champion Chris Froome may be a factor, although Brailford did say as last year's Tour ended that he was more interested in "goal harmony" than interpersonal relationships.

However, Froome, who came close to usurping Wiggins during the 2012 Tour, has moved into the ascendancy at Team Sky, while Wiggins - once their flagship rider - has become increasingly peripheral and, as this year's Tour gets under way, will instead be focusing on racing for England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Despite his successes in races such as the Tour of California and the British Time Trial championships, it seems inevitable Wiggins will soon move on from Team Sky. Froome, meanwhile, has struggled to replicate the trouble-free build-up he enjoyed to last year's Tour, which he won convincingly.

Although his season began well with victory in the Tour of Oman, he has suffered back problems, chest infections and a major crash on the road to Leeds.

Outwardly, he remains the man to beat but the stick-thin champion has also seemed a little hesitant in recent weeks, particularly when confronted by the resurgent Alberto Contador, who appears back to the form that took him to Tour victory in 2007 and 2009.

The average age of Sky's 2014 Tour team is almost 32, which reassures Froome that he has the breadth of experience around him he will need. There are those, however, who will also argue that the modern Tour de France is no country for old men.

Of the young pretenders, the most exciting talent is the feisty Miami-born American Andrew Talansky. The 25-year-old recently snatched victory in the Alpine stage race the Criterium du Dauphine from the clutches of Froome and Contador, and has been knocking on the door of major success in events such as Paris-Nice and the Tour of Romandy for the past couple of seasons.

The opening weekend of racing is certainly going to shock those who, unlike Froome, have not made the time to explore the windswept and wild roads of North Yorkshire. Saturday's first stage, from Leeds to Harrogate, takes in some steep climbs, but will play into the hands of sprinters such as Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel.

Cavendish is struggling to cling on to his mantle as the world's fastest sprinter under Kittel's irresistible challenge. Whichever of them emerges victorious in Harrogate will claim bragging rights for the rest of the Tour.

The second stage, from York to Sheffield, has five short and sharp climbs in the final 60 kilometres, including the near-vertical Cote de Jenkin Road, as the Tour's road book calls it.

Throw in some crosswinds and summer squalls and it's sure to be a dramatic day. Right now though, for those who have poured their heart and soul into the Yorkshire Grand Depart, it is all about weathering such storms.

Jeremy Whittle is the author of 'Bad Blood,' and collaborated with David Millar on his autobiography, 'Racing Through The Dark.'

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