Over the next fortnight a pair of obstacles may cause the road to victory to be blocked for Team Sky, writes Anthony Tan from Porrentruy.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM



It's easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of s**t rather than get off their arses in their own life and apply themselves, and work hard at something and achieve something.
As things now stand, Team Sky, if they're to win this Tour de France, is faced with two significant hurdles.

The first is their capacity to defend the lead up hill and down dale for the next 12 days. Based on Bradley Wiggins' time trial prowess relative to his rivals it was always a likely scenario and Team Sky would have been prepared for it – but to be prepared for something and to put it into practice, not to mention successfully pull it off, are two quite different things.

Furthermore, Wiggins probably took the jersey two days earlier than expected. Monday's time trial in Besançon would have been the first likely point, but such was the selection Saturday on the 5.9-kilometre-long climb to La Planche des Belles Filles, we now find ourselves looking at what appears to be a three-horse race.

But is it just Wiggins, Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali? After Belles Filles and today's stage to Porrentruy, I'm not so sure.

With exactly 1,913.10 kilometres left to race, can we really rite off Denis Menchov (54 seonds behind Wiggins), Haimar Zubeldia (59 seconds), Christopher Froome (1:32) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (2:11) already?

For me, one of the greatest dangers to Wiggins' lead comes from within his own team.

Kenyan-born Froome has already shown himself to be arguably the strongest climber in this year's race. Of his stage-winning move on Belles Filles he said it wasn't even a full-blown effort, always an ominous sign of a man at the peak of his powers. And should Wiggins falter in the next fortnight, he also has proven himself more than capable of assuming a leadership position, as he did at last year's Vuelta a España.

When I asked him if he felt Evans chose not or could not to go with him on the climb of Belles Filles, Froome said it was more the latter. Though to be fair, at that point in the race, Cadel did not need to follow him, since Froome began the seventh stage 1:41 down on Cancellara, caught in the kerfuffle on the opening road stage to Seraing. If he keeps gaining time, though, Evans will need to start monitoring and marking Froome's movements more closely.

Van Den Broeck reckons the best he can aim for is a top-five finish in Paris but I reckon that's codswallop – no bona-fide GC contender comes to the Tour with such an ambition, particularly when we're still so far out from Paris.

Sunday to Porrentruy, the Belgian motored up the leader board from thirteenth to eighth overall. If, over the next fortnight, Evans, Nibali and he form an alliance of sorts on the road, it might just produce the necessary hairline cracks to put the maillot jaune under real pressure – leaving him in no fit state to ride the final 53.5km time trial from Bonneval to Chartres at the best of his ability.

"It's perfect for us that we don't have the yellow jersey so we don't have to control (the race) too much," said BMC sport director John Lelangue.

"It's also been perfect for us that there are some guys who are close (to the lead) and want to make the race a little harder and some guys who have lost two or three minutes and want to make up time."

I also mentioned a second obstacle. One less obvious than the first but an obstruction nonetheless.

It is Wiggins' ability to cope with the media, and the umpteen questions thrown at him each day that form part of the protocol as race leader.

He already lost it a few times at the Critérium du Dauphiné and in today's post-stage conference an Associated Press reporter's line of questioning caused him to lose it again.

"There was some chatter in the Twittersphere about the comparison between Sky and US Postal. I'm wondering your reaction, and what do you say to the cynics who say you have to be doped up to win the Tour de France?" asked the scribe from AP.

"Honestly, they're just f**king w**kers," began Wiggins, who must've had Team Sky's PR types squirming in their seats.

"I cannot be dealing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can't ever imagine applying themselves to anything in their lives. And it's easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of s**t rather than get off their arses in their own life and apply themselves, and work hard at something and achieve something. And that's ultimately it."

Before Pascale Schyns, the official translator, began her French rendition of that answer, Wiggins sent down a final one-word reply to the press Рthough clearly aimed at those who have dubbed Team Sky 'UK Postal', ever since their imperious performance at the Dauphin̩.

Since SBS is a family-oriented television channel watched and read by mums, dads and kids alike, let's just say he dropped the 'C-bomb', before marching out of the room in a huff.

Over the next fortnight, the additional energy expended as race leader and, in the case of Wiggins, occasionally losing one's cool, may insidiously take its toll.

The maillot jaune may give you wings, but for some, it may also clip them.