Wiggins makes season debut tomorrow, says he’s ‘way ahead of last year’
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wiggins makes season debut tomorrow, says he’s ‘way ahead of last year’

by VeloNation Press at 3:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Volta ao Algarve
 
Briton believes he’s looking good heading into 2012

Bradley WigginsBradley Wiggins will begin his season tomorrow in the Volta ao Algarve, where he’ll have the opportunity to assess the energy built up from the trickle charge of all the training kilometres he’s clocked up in recent months.

Encouragingly for his Sky Procycling team, the Briton is feeling very upbeat about his condition. Coming off a strong end to the 2011 season when he finished third overall the Vuelta a España and second in the world time trial championship, he carried momentum into the off season and then further built his form.

“I think I'm in a good position, with the self-belief I've got after the season I had last year, the work I've done and the confidence I now have as a rider,” he wrote in his new online blog in the Guardian.

“In cycling terms it's not long until the Tour and the most important part of the preparation is over: I've done the hard work, stayed healthy. It's just a matter of taking my training head off and racing now.”

The first competition of the new year is always a moment of truth for riders, who will find out if good sensations clocking up kilometres will translate into strong form when back in the bunch with other riders. Wiggins suspects that things are on a very good path, and this encourages him as regards his goal of chasing Tour de France success.

“There will be extra excitement about that first race. When you've been working hard, you want to see where you are,” he stated. “All the evidence suggests I'm way ahead of last year in my fitness – the numbers I'm producing, the work I've been doing, the tests I've had – and you start to think 'I was third in the Paris-Nice with what I had last year and now I'm ahead'. You can't help wondering what you can do…”

The 31 year old will be part of a very strong lineup for the Portuguese race, with several proven winners on the team. He’ll be joined by Vuelta a España runner-up Chris Froome, Australian stage race specialiset Richie Porte, double Tour de France stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Löfkvist, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Xabier Zandio.

The race will be run off over five days and features a category two summit finish at Alto do Malhão on stage three. That will enable Wiggins and the other riders aiming for the Tour de France the opportunity to test their climbing, and to make a difference if they are feeling good; then, two days later, a 25.8 kilometre final time trial will show their condition against the clock.

Last year Tony Martin beat Vacansoleil’s Lieuwe Westra by five seconds in the final test, swooping to grab the general classification by 32 seconds ahead of his then-HTC Highroad team-mate Tejay Van Garderen. Westra and Alberto Contador were third and fourth, the latter coming back from a provisional suspension ended by his national federation the RFEC.

Twelve months on, he’s off the bike again due to a successful appeal against that RFEC decision by WADA and the UCI. Wiggins is pleased that a decision has finally been made and the limbo the sport was in has ended. “Only he knows whether he was innocent or guilty, but the decision has been made and I think it was the right decision for the sport,” he states. “If the whole affair had been drawn out any more it would have made a mockery of the system.”

As regards Contador’s absence from the Tour, he has mixed feelings. “When I saw he was banned I was a bit disappointed that he wasn't going to be at the Tour, because I want all the best guys to be there so that I can try to beat them. There's an element of 'I'd like to have had a go at him'. As it is, it's one rider less and one team less to think about.”

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