July 12, 2012

LA TOUSSUIRE, France (AP) -- Christopher Froome's attack less than two miles from the finish Thursday was so good he stranded Tour de France team leader Bradley Wiggins. But Froome was not allowed to keep going. Team Sky sports directors ordered him to wait for Wiggins.

Froome has been a model of dedication for Wiggins so far. His move, however, suggested he could be frustrated by his position within the mighty British outfit.

Asked about his possible desire to knock Wiggins off his perch, Froome's answer spoke volumes about his ambition.

"No mutiny," he said, before pausing. "Not now."

After defending champion Cadel Evans lost 1 minute, 26 seconds to Wiggins on Thursday, the Kenyan-born Froome sits second overall, 2:05 behind Wiggins.

Froome came to prominence last year when he finished runner-up at the Vuelta after starting the race as one of Wiggins' key support riders. Until Thursday and his unexpected surge, he had stuck to this role, laying it on the line for his leader.

He said his move was meant to gain more time on Evans, but it looked more like a statement of his own power.

"The team orders are the priority No. 1," Froome said on his way back to his team hotel, after the 11th stage won by Frenchman Pierre Rolland.

"Definitely, it has to be like this. I'm sure I'll get my chance one day. For now, I can see the bigger picture. I can see that my work is not going unnoticed, and that it is going to a bigger cause."

Froome extended his contract with Sky for three more seasons last September after finishing runner-up at the Vuelta ahead of third-placed Wiggins. He said he received no guarantee he will be the team's leader next year.

"I don't know if it's going to be my chance," said the soft-spoken rider. "I have no guarantee of that. Next year I might not be part of the Tour team. I might not be in the condition."

Froome was courted by Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis at the end of last season but negotiations were cut short, reportedly for financial reasons.

Given his huge potential, it is difficult to imagine Froome staying with Sky for a long spell if Wiggins keeps his leader status.

On Thursday, Froome made his move after Wiggins and his teammates caught third-placed Vincenzo Nibali, with Evans already lagging well behind.

"I don't know who called him back. I didn't have a radio at that point, my earpiece had fallen out," Wiggins said. "This morning we certainly talked about Chris maybe attacking in the final. We had already gotten rid of Cadel, but this morning we were planning on him still being there."

Froome said sports director Sean Yates told him to stop his effort.

"I knew Bradley was behind," Froome explained. "But I obviously did not want to put him under pressure. If he was on the wheels and comfortable, then it would not have been a problem for me to go. I knew he was not on my wheel. If he had been on other riders' wheels, it would not have been a problem, but other riders were also jumping around and it was better that I waited."

Froome is likely to ride the Vuelta again this summer when he could take on Alberto Contador for a showdown between the two best climbers in the world.

At the finish, a reporter told Froome he would win the Tour if he was defending his own interests.

"Thanks for the compliment," Froome said. "I think Bradley is in a better position to win the Tour than I am. I have to do what the team wants me to do. He's just as strong as me, and stronger than me in the time trials. I'm here to help Bradley."

For how long?

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