Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome could “absolutely” line up alongside each other when the Tour de France starts in Yorkshire next year, according to Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford.
It seemed the relationship between the two Tour winners had broken down completely during the build-up to this year’s race, when Wiggins appeared to go back on a previous promise to support Froome’s bid for glory in favour of targeting victory himself.
It became a moot point when Wiggins withdrew through injury but nevertheless it became hard to imagine them working together again.
Brailsford sees it differently.
“I’d love to do it,” he said. “I’d absolutely love to.”
While Brailsford does not pretend the two Tour winners enjoy a comfortable relationship, he said: “I don’t spend a nanosecond worrying about whether they got on or not.
“People talk about having team unity and team harmony. I don’t buy that at all. Most of the best teams I’ve been with, they’re not harmonious environments.
“This is not a harmonious environment. This is a gritty environment where people are pushing really hard.
“What you need is goal harmony, and there’s a big difference between the two.”
After the glory of 2012, when he became the first Briton to win the Tour de France and then just weeks later took gold in the Olympic time trial, Wiggins has endured a frustrating 2013 which has left many wondering what is next for the 33-year-old.
He targeted the Giro d’Italia only to withdraw early in the race suffering from a chest infection, and a knee injury then hampered his recovery and ended his hopes of being ready for the Tour.
Since then, he has openly questioned his own future in the Grand Tours to leave uncertainty over his long-term goals.
More immediately he will return to action in the Tour of Poland this weekend with his eye on the world championship time trial in Florence in September.
“What he’s done this year is adjust very quickly, reset his goals, which is standard procedure for him,” Brailsford said.
“He’s very, very motivated and in great shape now, going into Poland, and then on to the individual time trial at the worlds.”
Asked if Wiggins could win in Florence, Brailsford said: “There’s no reason why he couldn’t, but what actual form he will be in, we’ll have to wait and see.
“There’s him and (reigning world champion) Tony Martin, Froomie potentially (although Froome insists he will focus on the road race).
“But he’s a brilliant time triallist, Bradley, now he’s set his mind on it.”
What comes after that remains to be seen.
While Wiggins seems to doubt whether he has the motivation to prepare himself for the gruelling test of the Grand Tours again, Brailsford wants to keep the door open.
“We’ll see how the rest of the season goes,” he said.
“You can’t rule anything out. Once you start ruling things out, saying, ’No he can’t do this, he can’t do that’... We’re not in the game of ruling things out, we’re in the game of ruling things in.”
Whether it be Wiggins or Froome or both on the start line for next year’s Grand Depart in Leeds, however, Brailsford is simply delighted that his team can begin with a champion in their ranks after back-to-back successes inside four years of Team Sky’s formation.
“I think it’s brilliant that we’ll go to a Tour de France starting in our home country with the reigning champion,” he said.
“It’s bonkers really, when you think about it.”