Race leader acknowledges sacrifice of key team-mates

Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins today acknowledged the talent and potential of his Sky team-mate Christophe Froome and pledged to help him win a future Tour de France.

"He will win this race one day and I will be there to support him do that," Wiggins, 32, said at today's rest day press conference.
"The guy is capable of winning the Tour otherwise he wouldn't be second overall in the Tour de France.

"What we do well is that we are a close group and we have been all year. That's why we're in this position now. We've gone out there each day and proved on the road that there isn't a problem."

Wiggins also made it clear he is very happy with Team Sky, and determined to ride out his career with the British team. His comments are a stark contrast to  the rest day in 2007 when Wiggins quit the race in disgust after his Cofidis team-mate was arrested in connection with a positive drug test.

Wiggins said: "I'm part of this team and I always want to be part of this team until the end of my career and it is about the team being successful.

"I want to be part of a successful team and next year, whoever the leader of that line-up may be, I'll be there and, as I said at the start of this year, I was the one that was given the role to lead the team at this year's Tour de France and I took it on, I took the responsibility, and I've lived up to the expectations so far."

The debt he owes to Froome isn't the only one Wiggins said he is intending to repay. He also acknowledged the contribution world champion Mark Cavendish has made in this year's Tour.

"Mark has been fantastic these last two and a half weeks," said Wiggins.

"He's been so committed to my cause - to the yellow jersey - and he's a great champion and a great friend.

"Obviously there is still the stage to Paris for him and we're going to lay it down in Paris for him and try and get him the win there.

"He's also got the Olympic road race which he's been quite open about. That's his main objective this year.

"It's a shame that he hasn't had the chance to race for more stage wins but in the end we've got a difficult task on our hands to try and win the yellow jersey.

"So far, he's played a big part in that. We've seen him going back for bottles and, yesterday, he tried really hard to get over that first climb with us. He's also been an absolute gentleman this week."

It's a far cry from his famous comedown in 2004 and 2005. After winning three medals including a gold at the Athens Olympics, Wiggins retreated to his local pub for an extended bender that only ended with the birth of his sone Ben in March 2005.

It took a while to get back on track, even after he started racing seriously again. Wigging told reportes: "A few years ago I was failing as an athlete, I never really fulfilled my potential and I think the last few years with the right people around me I've started to realise my potential."

"I was capable of so much more and the people around me were obviously aware of that, it's just getting those people to get that out of me."

Joining the Gamin team in 2009 was decisive. In a supportive environment at last, he lost weight and found a new determination.

"That was the turning point, for once I was in a team where you could be yourself, there was no sort of stereotypes or cliques, because in every (previous) team you had to mould in to be like everyone else otherwise you wouldn't fit in."

"That's one of the reasons why I started to perform well."

Age and fatherhood have also changed Wiggins' perspective and behaviour.

"Age helps a lot. You get older, things change in your life," he said.

"Things you did to entertain yourself 10 years ago don't apply to you when your kids are nearly 10, night clubbing, things like that, you don't live for the weekend, you live for your children more and I think all that reflects to your professionalism, how you apply yourself to your job."

Wiggins said he is also finding it easier to handle the pressure to perform despite being on the verge of becoming the first Briton ever to win the Tour de France.
"Nothing really changes for me. I think you can get so drawn into 'this is a life or death situation'," he said.

"I used to be like that on the track a few years ago when I was in the Olympic finals when I was against Brad(ley) McGee 'oh what am I gonna do if I don't win this, what's gonna happen to me they're gonna send me to the gallows'.

"Your kids... are not really bothered by that, they don't care. So those things help you handle these situations a lot better."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.