British panel weighs in on Wiggins’ chances for yellow at the Tour de France
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Friday, June 29, 2012

British panel weighs in on Wiggins’ chances for yellow at the Tour de France

by Kyle Moore at 6:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Dave Brailsford, Graham Jones, and Chris Boardman on the big British hope

Bradley WigginsIn Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling), Great Britain has likely its biggest hope ever at taking the yellow jersey in the Tour de France all the way to Paris.

In 2011, Wiggins was coming off victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné, and many pundits were naming as one on a long list of favourites to win the Tour. But a broken collarbone after a stage seven crash on the way to Châteauroux derailed those plans.

This season, Wiggins has tripled his stage win tally, with wins in Paris-Nice, the Dauphiné, and the Tour de Romandie on his palmares. And with an even more intense dedication to living the life of a top-tier professional cyclist, Wiggins enters tomorrow’s Tour start as the top favourite, alongside Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).

Some of the biggest names in British Cycling weighed in to BBC Sport on the topic of Wiggins, what he has done, and what he needs to do to win the Tour de France.

Wiggins’ Sky Procycling boss Dave Brailsford attributed his ascension to changes and improvements made in the last few seasons.

“Bradley has matured. He's learnt through his performances how to be a winner, learnt how to be a leader, and his confidence has grown immensely over the last 18 months,” Brailsford explained. “His belief in what he's doing is better than it's ever been. There are two different psychologies. One is the psychology of getting ready for a big event - the training, the discipline, the hours on the bike, the nutritional control, the managing and organizing your whole life around it. Then there's the point where you put the number on your back and you have to change your psychology to one of racing.

“Brad has improved in both areas. He's racing better and his mental approach is better than it's ever been. He's racing at the front at the pointy end of the race. He's happy to be there and his organization and commitment to his training has been spectacular.”

Brailsford also indicated that the experience gained by Wiggins in winning nearly every stage race in sight has prepared him ideally for the undertaking in July.

“If you've been successful in the run-up and all things are going well, then it’s just another bike race, and if you start treating it any differently then that's dangerous territory,” he added. “The competition is the same and if we go in with the same calm, collected approach that we've had in all the races he's won this year, that's the way to do it. It's business as usual.”

BBC 5 Radio commentator and former professional Graham Jones speculated on how Sky could handle the burden of yellow, already having multiple ambitions, over the three weeks.

“We have seen Sky dominate the peloton and set the trend on flatter days in the stage races this season but I don't think they can afford to do that for three weeks at the Tour de France,” Jones admitted. “It's a long time to control a race. Wiggins could be in yellow after the first time trial [on July 9]. His aim for the first 10 days will be to not lose time to anybody and then win the time trial.

“It's not always ideal to get yellow so early but if you have a chance to take time off your rivals you should. You can always let the jersey go later to a rider who is not an overall rival for yellow.”

Boardman, owner of more yellow jerseys than any other British rider, spoke about Team Sky’s strategy beginning with the prologue. With his yellow jersey record possibly in danger, Boardman still has some Tour in his system, more than ten years since he last participated.

“I wouldn't be surprised, the way he's been building up, if he did take the prologue,” Boardman said. “It would be about time. I think you just take [the yellow jersey] when you can get it. You shouldn't ride any differently after the prologue, you either defend or you don't defend.

“The Tour is a special thing. It is the unofficial World Championships. Everybody knows that. Would you rather win an Olympic title, world title or the Tour de France? The Tour de France. It's the hardest-fought thing.”

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