Bradley Wiggins reckons Team Sky’s early season form has been fantastic and believes that he is on track for a big performance in this year’s Tour de France.
Speaking ahead of yesterday’s Paris-Roubaix race, the three-time Olympic gold medallist also said that he’s feeling less pressure to perform in the Tour this time around.
Wiggins was one of very few riders who’ll be going all-out for a result in the general classification of any of the Grand Tours who rode across the pavé of northern France, the likes of Contador, the Schlecks, Menchov and Evans steering well clear.
“My motivation for riding Paris-Roubaix is to play a support role for Juan Antonio Flecha who supported me last year in the Tour de France and will do so again this year,” said Wiggins.
Wiggins went off the front in a small group early on before being caught with 190km still remaining. Flecha was in the mix throughout, although never looking as strong as some of the other pre-race favourites, before eventually finishing 10th, the highest placed member of Team Sky.
Britain’s Geraint Thomas, who showed excellent form in the Tour of Flanders last weekend, had been given a free role by the team but he found himself on the ground three times in 20km and failed to finish. But Wiggins is pleased with the way Team Sky have performed so far in 2011.
“It’s our second year and we all know each other now and I think that’s come through in the results,” he said. “Across the board this year, the results have been fantastic and it seems week in, week out someone from Team Sky is doing something somewhere. You only have to look at our ranking and the individual rankings of the riders to see where we’re at.”
Wiggins is happy with his individual form too, his standout result so far this year being third place in last month’s eight-stage Paris-Nice race where he put in a strong performance in the time trial.
“The way I’ve handled the season so far and the training has been brilliant,” he says. “It’s all part of the bigger plan for this year and it’s certainly a big step up from last year. Everything is on track at the moment. Paris-Roubaix is the end of the first part of the season. I’ll have a little break after this and then start building for the Tour.”
Wiggins finished fourth in the Tour in 2009, just six minutes down on winner Alberto Contador, but couldn’t repeat this level of success last year, finishing in 24th place and nearly 40mins down. But he’s positive about his prospects this season.
“I certainly feel less pressure this year, for sure, and also the planning has been better. It all came up on us a bit last year. The Giro is less than a month away now. This time last year it was a mad rush to get ready for the Giro and then all of a sudden it’s the Tour. I’ve gone back and changed completely my management team around me, coaching team and sports science team. They’re working very hard in the background.”
“I still don’t know what I’m capable of in the Tour de France. The aim this year is to find out.”
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.