The Debate Starts: The Climber or the Machine?

He’s won the Tour de France. He’s a gold medalist, a national champion, and perhaps the best British rider to ever throw a leg over a bike. Now, would you rather have Bradley Wiggins or Chris Froome in 2013?

The debate has already started. Even when the result was in doubt, experts and fans alike were already taking sides. The climbing-superior Froome or the time trial champ, the mechanical Bradley Wiggins? Either way, even with the returns of Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, the Kenyon and the Mod Man will enter the Tour as either co-leaders for Sky or with Froome commanding his own squad.

The 2013 route won’t be revealed until October, but with it being the 100th running of the Tour, it’s hard to imagine it being anything like this year’s time trial-fest. There’s no way Christian Prudhomme will be able to resist including the Tour’s most famous climbs on the centennial edition of the world’s biggest race, so you can rather safely bet summits like the Alp d’Huez, Mount Ventoux, the Tourmalet, and a host of others will be included. After a brief hiatus, the team trial will almost surely be back, and don’t be surprised if there isn’t a mountain time trial, too.

All of this means Chris Froome would have an edge over Wiggins, and Wiggo has already said he’d support Froome if that’s how the race played out in 2013. Froome would be the better option to battle Contador, Schleck and perhaps Teejay Van Garderen as the leader of BMC. Wouldn’t it be rather surprising to see the two latest defending Tour champions, Evans and Wiggins, riding in support of their younger counterparts?

For now, Wiggins is the best rider on the planet. He’s proven himself the most well-rounded rider in a race that demands everything for its winner. Enjoy it. Grow out your sideburns. But after the champagne is gone and the Olympics take attention away from road contracts and deals, watch out for Froome making a move to a new squad. Some likely candidates are RadioShack-Nissan (who are rumored to have already lost the Schlecks and maybe even Cancellara, in addition to Jakob Fugalsang), Astana (the team the Schlecks may be headed to) and maybe even OmegaPharma-QuickStep. OPQS can’t be happy with its complete lack of a GC rider, with the Velits twins flopping and Levi Leipheimer unimpressive, though he’s been recovering from a broken leg this spring.

Who would you take?

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