Prudhomme: Wiggins’ withdrawal from Tour de France is not a huge surprise
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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Prudhomme: Wiggins’ withdrawal from Tour de France is not a huge surprise

by VeloNation Press at 7:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Says there will be many other big names; Not the first time that a defending champion has missed the race

The news was surprising to many but Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme has said that he had anticipated the possibility that Bradley Wiggins would not ride this year’s race.

“We had a feeling it was coming. It's a half surprise even a quarter of a surprise after he pulled out of the Giro. I was in England last week and the press gave the impression that it was more serious than we first thought,” he told AFP.

“He hasn't had great results this season, even if he was getting stronger at the beginning of the Giro, with the victory in the team time-trial.”

Wiggins’ withdrawal from the defence of his title was confirmed yesterday by his Sky team, which said that he didn’t have the necessary form to compete in the race.

“With illness, injury and treatment Brad has gone past the point where he can be ready for the Tour. It’s a big loss but, given these circumstances, we won’t consider him for selection,” confirmed Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford.

“He hasn’t been able to train hard since the Giro and now he needs further rest. Whilst we all know these things happen in sport, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a huge disappointment for everyone in the team – and above all for Brad.”

Wiggins based the entire first part of his season around being ready for the Giro d’Italia, his stated main goal for the season. However he was clearly out of sorts, being dropped on both the descents and the climbs, falling early on in the race and then withdrawing, citing a chest infection.

Prudhomme knows that the loss of a big name will have an effect on the race, not least because he dominated the event last year. However he points out that it has happened many times in the past and the race has continued with the same lustre.

“It is not that rare [for a defending champion to be absent – ed.], especially during the 1980's. It was thanks to the withdrawal of Bernard (Hinault) in 1983 that we got to see Laurent Fignon's victory,” he pointed out.

“For the observers, there remained a question mark in the Sky team even if Dave Brailsford had established leadership (for Chris Froome.) There, there will be a well-structured Sky team that will fight, with Chris Froome, against the other favourites of the Tour - Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Tejay Van Garderen, Joaquim Rodriguez and, why not, the Colombian climber Nairo Quintana.”

Prudhomme’s point is clear: no one rider is bigger than the race, although he does believe that the Briton will be back. “Wiggins will without doubt be even more motivated at the start of the Tour in 2014, in Yorkshire.”

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