Giro d’Italia: Overall leader Paolini believes Wiggins is ‘in great condition’
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Giro d’Italia: Overall leader Paolini believes Wiggins is ‘in great condition’

by Shane Stokes at 5:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Italian to ride flat out tomorrow to defend race lead but accepts he’ll lose the Maglia Rosa Saturday

Bradley WigginsIt’s still far too early to get a clear picture of which of the Giro d’Italia big guns are in true contention for the final Maglia Rosa of the race but current leader Luca Paolini has vouched for the form of Sky’s Bradley Wiggins.

The Briton is aiming to add the Giro title to the Tour de France crown he took last July, and while he lost time two days ago, Paolini dispels any suggestion that he might not be in top form.

“When everyone wants to be in the front it’s a problem for everyone, including Wiggins. But I think these are intermediate stages for the big contenders,” said Paolini after today’s stage.

“I have seen him pedalling very well. On the climb before Matera, his pedal stroke was excellent, so I think he’s in great condition.”

Although Wiggins is a big threat to Paolini’s race lead, he resisted any thoughts of trying to capitalise today when the Briton was held up behind a crash.

“Five minutes before the fall Katusha decided to move to the front to keep the Maglia Rosa out of trouble. Then we were told that there had been a fall, and we slowed down,” he said. “Me and other riders who are high in GC were near the front, and we took it easy to let the others regain the group.”

Wiggins got back up and, perhaps trying to make a point after his time loss on Tuesday, he hit the front and dragged the peloton along through the three kilometre to go banner. Tomorrow should be a clearer test of his form, however, with the lumpy stage to Pescara offering the possibility that the general classification favourites could test each other out.

Whether or not that happens, though, Saturday’s leg of the race will be crucial. The 54.8 kilometre time trial from Gabicce Mare to Saltara will see the first major time gaps open, and will reveal a lot about who is in shape. Wiggins will hope to open significant time over the climbing specialists there.

As for Paolini, he knows that even if he can hang on to pink tomorrow, that he will lose it on Saturday. He’s enjoyed his time at the top, but also accepts that scenario.

“The challenge I have set myself is to keep the Maglia Rosa until the individual time trial, so I’ll ride tomorrow’s stage like a one-day Classic,” he said. “I won’t ride the time trial to defend the Maglia Rosa. It would be a bit embarrassing, because the ITT specialists would have a thing or two say about my pedal stroke and position on the bike! But 50 very hard kilometres, riding alone in front of the fans, will be a memorable way of saying goodbye to the Maglia Rosa.”

After that, he said that his Katusha team-mates Yuri Trofimov and Giampaolo Caruso will do what they can to try to finish in the top ten of the general classification. He has other goals. “I’ll go back to doing what I had to do before: trying to win another stage. I’m in good condition, so I’ll just try to get through the stages that don’t suit me, and I’ll try to win one of the ones that do,” he said.


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