Bradley Wiggins’ Giro d’Italia withdrawal raises Team Sky Tour de France questions
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Bradley Wiggins’ Giro d’Italia withdrawal raises Team Sky Tour de France questions

by Ben Atkins at 5:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Injury
 
Internal struggle with Chris Froome looms; Urán at a disadvantage after waiting for Wiggins

bradley wigginsBradley Wiggins (Team Sky) has finally succumbed to the chest infection that has seen him steadily lose time in this year’s Giro d’Italia and withdrawn from the race. The Tour de France winner was unable to stay with the main peloton in yesterday’s torrential rain on the way to Treviso, as he was first dropped on a short defence and then struggled to regain contact. Such was to the 33-year-old’s collapse, that he was even struggling to keep up with the second peloton that formed and had to be nursed back up to it by his team.

“We monitored Bradley overnight and this morning we’ve withdrawn him from the Giro after consulting the team doctor,” said Team Sky’s principle Dave Brailsford. “His chest infection has been getting worse and our primary concern is always the health of our riders.

“Bradley will return to the UK today for treatment and to rest and we hope to have him back on the road as soon as possible,” Brailsford added. “As a passionate racer he wanted to continue but he is simply unable to do so on medical grounds.”

Wiggins’ withdrawal from the race - on the same day as defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) is not a surprise, but it does raise questions over Team Sky’s earlier race tactics, and further raises the spectre of an internal battle in the upcoming Tour de France.

Rigoberto Urán has become the team’s de facto leader and - aside from the stage 8 time trial - has been outperforming Wiggins throughout. The Colombian was one of the Team Sky riders called back to nurse Wiggins to the finish after his wet weather crash on the way to Pescara on stage seven, losing 1’36” to the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).

Urán currently sits in third place overall, trailing Nibali by 2’04”, and Evans by 1’23”, with all but 32 seconds of his deficit lost in Pescara. While the Colombian would not have been allowed the same freedom to escape on stage ten to Altopiano del Montasio, he would certainly be in a better position to challenge Nibali, and may even by ahead of Evans.

Had Team Sky not sacrificed Urán in the lost cause of Wiggins on that wet descent to Pescara, the 26-year-old would be sitting in a prime position to challenge for the race as it heads into its mountainous second half. He may still challenge for the final Maglia Rosa, but his job has been made all the more difficult.

bradley wiggins,chris froomeWiggins has been talking about the prospect of a Giro/Tour double this season, despite Brailsford’s proclamation that Chris Froome will be the leader in the race, and Wiggins’ withdrawal from the Giro will surely make him more determined for the Tour.

The spectre of a internal battle between Wiggins and Froome has hung over Team Sky ever since Froome’s emergence as a genuine Grand Tour contender at the 2011 Vuelta a España, and is surely now doing so even more. Had Wiggins won the Giro d’Italia then he would surely have wanted to go for what would likely be a once in a career opportunity to take a rare double.

Now that he has been forced to withdraw he will surely be even more focused on his Tour defence to make up for his disappointment in Italy and to prove that his 2012 success was not a lucky one.

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