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Concern and advice as superstar forced to drop out of Tour de France

It's no surprise that the entire cycling world has pitched in with advice since it was announced last week that Bradley Wiggins was to stand down from the Tour de France.

A knee problem has prevented Wiggins from training to the intensity required for him to be fit enough for either the Dauphine or the Tour de Suisse - both crucial preparation races for Sky's Tour Squad.

Bradley is said to be as gutted as you might expect - and the pros around him seem concerned. "This is definitely a crisis point," Shane Sutton, British Cycling's head coach told the Observer.

"What will it do to him mentally? I don't know."

He added: "When you have a setback like this you need to take inspiration from others, so I'd cite Cadel Evans, who had a rough year last year but has come back to get on the podium of the Giro at 36.

"Brad needs to set some goals as soon as possible, something to get him back on his bike. The best would probably be the Vuelta, as preparation for the world championship individual time trial, which is a goal that has eluded him until now."

So a change of focus for Wiggo? It seems that's exactly what Sutton has in mind.

He continued: "He needs to improvise, find some diversity, do different things to get the same result. It's like a sponge washing a car – he's been wrung dry.

"After last year, from Paris-Nice [in March] to the Olympic Games, the numbers he was hitting were incredible; and it wasn't only that, it was the way he went about it. There was a steeliness there, a toughness, so much appetite.

"He's 33 but I don't believe he's finished. He just needs something to whet his palate."

William Fotherington has weighed into the debate too, with a column in Friday's Guardian exploring the cyclist's options.

He writes: "Wiggins now faces a key period in his career in the next month or two. If Froome performs in the Tour, will Sky want to return to the race in 2014 with Wiggins as their leader? He not only faces competition for No1 status at the British squad from Froome, but, behind him, Ritchie Porte, the Colombian Sergio Henao and perhaps Geraint Thomas are all emerging stage race talents.

"And if Wiggins is no longer the undisputed kingpin of the British squad, what is his status and what can he hope to achieve? He will need to bounce back quickly, or his entire sporting future may be in question."

But it isn't all doom and gloom. "He is at the prime of his career now. Missing the Tour de France is not a big, big deal really," Stephen Roche, 1987 winner of the Tour told BBC Radio 5 live's Up All Night.

"There is no question in my mind that Bradley cannot get back to beating the best of them again.

"I am sure it will only fuel his enthusiasm and make him come back even stronger and fitter and more eager next year. Physically, mentally and morally it is big of course but Bradley is the type of guy who keeps bouncing back.

"I came back too early and ended up having a back problem. I was still having pain and was trying to compensate with one leg. I did my back in. The most important thing is to listen to your body and don't listen to your interior saying 'I have got to get back'."

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.