Wiggins feels strong emotions after realising Tour de France title is almost certainly his
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wiggins feels strong emotions after realising Tour de France title is almost certainly his

by VeloNation Press at 1:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
“All the way up the last climb I almost had tears in my eyes”

Bradley WigginsThere are still three stages to go, including Saturday’s 53.5 kilometre time trial, but Bradley Wiggins has said that the end of the mountains means that he believes he’s almost certainly won the Tour de France. The Briton crossed the line for third on today’s stage, smiling with the thought that the big obstacles are now all behind him.

“We were talking about Nibali because we knew he was on his limit,” he said, detailing what he and team-mate Chris Froome were speaking about towards the end of the stage. “Chris said he wanted to go for the stage and I said, ‘Yeah... ah... pff'…you know. I wasn't too sure on the time gap at that point but from the moment I crossed the Peyresourde [1.5km from the finish] I allowed myself to drift; at that point it was the first time I allowed myself to think that I've won the Tour.”

With third-placed rider Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) in trouble in the last climb, Wiggins and then Froome ramped up the pace and put further time into the Italian. Froom was clearly the stronger of the two and gapped Wiggins more than once; he gesticulated to the team leader, although it was unclear whether he was frustrated not to be allow race for the stage or was urging him on. Afterwards, both riders suggested it was the latter.

“All the way up the last bit, my concentration had gone,” said Wiggins. “Everything about performance had gone and Chris was egging me on to take time and, ah, I was just in another world, really.”

Wiggins went into the stage with a two minutes five seconds lead over Froome, and a further 18 second advantage over Nibali. The latter was his biggest threat and he needed to pay close attention to him.

Nibali’s Liquigas-Cannondale team ramped up the pace as the final climb got closer, although it was unclear what reasons they had for doing so, in that Wiggins and Froome could sit behind and wait. Once on the Peyresourde, many of the rivals crumbled and slipped back.

“Today it was more a case of everyone faltering around us and us just continuing what we were doing,” said Wiggins. “That's very much how it was today as opposed to yesterday, when we were taking on the attacks of Nibali and all that...

“Once we saw that Nibali had cracked at the top of the Peyresourde, we knew we didn't have the danger of him attacking in the final so it was at that point that I knew it was pretty much over.”

Wiggins is clear that his likely victory is based to consistency rather than any obviously moments of dominance, although his performance in the stage nine time trial saw him take considerable time out of his main GC rivals.

“The nature of the Tour is that people fall by the wayside as the race goes on. That's the affect of the length of the race and how hard it is; it's the nature of the Tour de France,” he stated. “I said at the start in Liège that it's about being good for 21 days and never really having any super days or any bad days. I think we saw that today: Nibali was super strong yesterday and perhaps didn't back it up today. It's about consistency, really.

“It was an ideal situation. As soon as we went of the Peyresourde, I knew that that was the climbing done, really. It was an incredible feeling because that's where everyone said that I was at my weakest – in the mountains – so it was good to go over the last summit. All the way up the last climb I almost had tears in my eyes. It's a really nice feeling.”

The possibility that Froome could have caught and passed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for the stage win led to some expressing frustration on Twitter after the stage finish, not least Froome’s girlfriend. Wiggins reiterated that he will repay his team-mate at some point in the future.

“Chris was super strong again today. He's super excited,” he said. “He's been a fantastic team-mate during this Tour de France. For sure, one day, he'll win the Tour and I'll be there beside him to do it.”

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