Chris Froome says he would play a supporting role in the Olympic road race if team-mate Geraint Thomas was better placed to challenge for gold.
Froome, 30, aims to defend his Tour de France title and compete in the Olympic time trial and road race this year.
Thomas, 29, supported Froome in last year’s tour, but the Briton would be willing to switch roles in Rio.
“I’d be happy playing a role if it meant we could have an Olympic champion,” said Froome.
The Tour remains Froome’s primary focus and, if that means his team-mates are in better condition than him come the Olympics in August, he will return to his days as a super-domestique.
The two-time Tour winner won Olympic bronze in London four years ago, though that was in the time trial rather than the road race.
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The challenging nature of the Rio road course means it will be one for the climbers this year, which puts the likes of Froome, Thomas and Simon and Adam Yates in contention for a place in Great Britain’s five-man team.
Thomas, a double Olympic track champion, underlined his growing potential on the road in last summer’s Tour when he was able to both support Froome and keep himself in contention for a podium place, until a stage 16 crash sent him tumbling down both a ditch and the general classification.
The Welshman has begun his season by successfully defending his Volta ao Algarve title and is expected to have protected status in the Team Sky squad at this year’s Tour, making him the team’s Plan B should something happen to Froome.
“Anyone who watched the Tour last year could see what ‘G’ is capable of,” added Froome.
“He came just a few days short of Paris and still he was in the top five. Given that he is going to focus more on stage racing this year, I like to think we can see even more from him in terms of stage racing.
“He was a huge part in me being able to win last year’s Tour and it would be great going into the Tour with G also protected this year.”
When Froome was in a similar position behind Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012, Wiggins felt Froome had challenged him, leading to a clash between the two.
However, Froome said he welcomes the competition from Thomas,
“Going back to the rivalry within the team, and the harmony within the team, the key to all of this is communication,” added Froome.
“Especially with G. We’ve been riding together now, it’s coming up to 10 years back to 2008 with Barloworld.
“At the Olympics it will be a very honest, open discussion between us, out on the road. Who’s feeling good? Can we get the job done today? Will you pull? Will you not pull?
“It’s that team dynamic. As long as communication is good I think you’ll have that buy-in from everyone.
‘If G is flying and I’m struggling, then definitely… [I’d support him].”
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