A third place for Bradley Wiggins in the Tour of Murcia has put him on track for a spectacular Tour de France, says Team Sky coach Rod Ellingworth.
HTC-Columbia leader Frantisek Rabon took both the final stage and, ultimately, the overall classification, Wiggins finished 48 seconds behind Rabon but three places higher than Lance Armstrong.
"Bradley put himself on the line for the win but this is a process and one that's coming together well," said Ellingworth. "He's getting increasingly consistent, and rode strongly in the mountains."
Team boss Dave Brailsford also believes Wiggins stands a good chance in July.
“The Tour De France has never been won by a British rider and I think we have the opportunity to maybe put that right,” he said.
“We have the Olympic ambition on the one hand, and then the Tour de France plans on the other hand. It’s one of those iconic events and we should have a go at least. In Bradley Wiggins we’ve got somebody who’s capable certainly of getting on the podium. It’s 21 days racing so a lot can go wrong but he can win it. If we can get it right this year, then why not this year? And if not, then we’ll keep on trying.”
Murcia is the only race where Wiggins took on key Tour rival Armstrong prior to July's showdown and in Saturday's decisive time trial he finished 30 seconds faster than the American.