Bradley Wiggins: “This race is about who can suffer for the longest”
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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Bradley Wiggins: “This race is about who can suffer for the longest”

by Ben Atkins at 3:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
British champion extends Vuelta a España race lead on a day that he was expected to come under attack

bradley wigginsStage fourteen of the Vuelta a España, between Astorga and La Farrapona, Lagos de Somiedo, was another good one for race leader Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). The British champion was expected to come under intense pressure from those just behind him in the overall classification, with riders like Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) going on the attack. Instead, it was Wiggins and Sky teammate Chris Froome who put the pressure on the others, with his race lead extended by the finish.

“I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record but my team were great again and I wouldn’t be in this position without them,” said Wiggins afterwards.

Froome and Wiggins took control of what was left of the peloton with just under three kilometres to go on the steep climb to the finish. Between them they managed to drop virtually all of Wiggins’ immediate rivals, with Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) able to stay with the pace, and Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) managing to stay away as he sustained an earlier attack.

“We are another day closer to the end now but tomorrow is a very hard stage,” said Wiggins, referring to the tough stage fifteen finish to the top of the Angliru. “We will continue to fight all the way until the end and hopefully that will be enough to win this red jersey.

“I’m feeling good and I felt strong on the climb. It still hurts of course and it’s certainly not easy but everybody else is hurting as well,” he added. “This race is about who can suffer for the longest.

“The Angliru is going to be extremely difficult, but as I said before, it is difficult for everyone and I will just have to fight all the way again.”

Wiggins still leads Froome by seven seconds, but Mollema is now in third, also static at 36 seconds, while Cobo is now fourth, 55 seconds behind. Previous danger men Nibali, Frederik Kessiakoff and Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) are now 1’25”, 1’23” and 1’37” respectively in arrears.

“Gaining some time is a big boost for my confidence today and should make things a little bit easier,” he concluded.

Once again, Team Sky’s sports director Steven de Jongh had nothing but praise for the team in black, which protected its leader through another hard stage.

“The team did really well today,” he said. “Everyone helped out and played their part. Then at the bottom of the final climb Froomey was still there. The other teams started to work because Moreno was in front and they were afraid of losing their places.”

This played into the hands of the British team, meaning that Froome could be saved until later on, where his fierce pace could have a devastating effect on the rest.

“We didn’t have to do anything and we could wait until the last moment,” de Jongh explained. “Then Froomey pulled an incredible pace up there.

“All the other GC guys popped apart from Cobo who was in front and Mollema, so we did a really good job for GC and we’re looking forward to tomorrow now.

Stage fifteen to the Angliru will present an even bigger challenge to the British team, with sections with gradient exceeding 20%.

“It’s a tough climb but it is tough for everybody,” said de Jongh. “The Angliru is a mountain that suits nobody

“It is just steep so it will be an exciting day ahead.”

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