In what would have been an otherwise exclusive scoop on any other day,
Bradley Wiggins admitted on Friday that he "felt on top of the world"
after boshing "some fantastic drugs".
Of course we're talking more morphine than EPO after the British GC hope
was discharged from hospital following that fall which Leipheimer'ed his
Yes, the sky fell on Wiggins' head on Friday - just 24 hours after his
team notched their first ever Tour stage victory. "That's bike racing -
it's unfortunate but life goes on," he told ITV's Ned Boulting.
Eight hours earlier, at the stage seven start in Le Mans, Wiggins had
spoken to Eurosport about his fears while riding in such a nervous peloton.
"Every day in the Tour all these guys, every one of them, tries to
stay on the front and some of them aren't that good at riding their bikes, and
obviously that causes crashes so it's a nightmare," he said. "But
that's bike racing, it's part of the battle, and you just pray to God that
you're not unfortunate enough to get caught out."
The big man upstairs clearly was taking a break when Wiggins knelt
beside his bed on Thursday night and uttered his prayers - for Friday's cruel
blow saw the sky fall on his head.
Wiggins has vowed to be back next year but that does little to lift the
fans who were so eager to see how the British hope - seemingly in the form of
his life - would have performed over the next two weeks.
Saddles is sure Wiggins will be back, but he has his own fears and
reservations. Next year is the 2012 London Olympics in Bradley's back yard -
and the Summer Games will surely be Wiggin's primary target for the season.
What's more, if as expected HTC's Mark Cavendish joins Sky this summer,
the whole of the dynamic of Dave Brailsford's team will change.
Cav requires to be part of a team dedicated to giving him the best
chance of success. Look at his words today on the finish line in Chateauroux:
"People say I have no respect for other riders, but other riders have no
respect for our team. They try to get on our train but they should get their
own train. If you want results, you should get a team together that can
A team that can deliver Mark Cavendish for sprint wins on the flat is
not a team that can accommodate not only a GC contender, but a load of
lieutenants to work alongside that man. In short, Sky would not be able to
juggle the aspirations of both Cav and Wiggins in the same team.
As such, this year, after the boon of 2009 and the disappointment of
2010, and before the Olympics of 2012 and the likely team switch of 2013, this
year perhaps presented Wiggins with his best shot at becoming the first Briton
to secure a Tour podium finish.
That is the saddest thing about Friday's crash: it marked perhaps the
end of an era. Britain had a rider just 10 seconds down after a near-perfect
opening week and in the shape and form of his life. And they may not have that
again for quite some time.
But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Saddles puts it to you
all that, despite the weight loss, despite the Dauphine win, and despite all
the bullish talk, perhaps 2010 was not going to be Wiggins's year either.
Who's to know what would have happened in the Pyrenees and the Alps -
let alone Saturday's uphill jolly to Super-Besse. Had Wiggins cracked, would he
have been able to recover from the disappointment of two consecutive bar years?
At least this way, we'll see a rider hungry to come back - and perhaps as early
as the Vuelta in late August.
What's more, the prospect of Sky's talented crop of riders now being
given free reign to do what they like is rather appealing. In Boasson Hagen,
Swift and Thomas they have a trio of riders who can make a massive impression,
while the experience of both Flecha and Gerrans can now take a bow.
Most exciting of all as the roads head up is Rigoberto Uran - watch out
for the Colombian over the next few days. Now that all these riders have
dropped in the overall standings, they might perhaps pass under the radar.
There are some very interesting days ahead.
Gaffe of the Day: Letting Chris Horner ride on for 40km
despite concussion and a broken nose. The American veteran crossed the line as
if he was on morphine and had no idea what had happened to him.
Plat du Jour: A slightly off-piste
breakfast of croissants with local pork rillettes; lunch of chapons du Mans -
that is 10-day old castrated grain-fed rooster; then for dinner in Chateauroux
a local galette de chevre (goat's cheese tart) with local Berry lentils, washed
down with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Reuilly region in the Loire
Word of the Day: vb. Aboondon - to throw in the towel.
'By selling both Fabregas and Nasri, Arsenal aboondoned any hope of a top four
finish next season.'
Uses for... Chris Horner: A father for the
Youtube kid high after a visit to the dentist - if ever the HBO decides to make
a sitcom out of their combined predicaments.
Peloton prattle: Which undiplomatic
rider approached one of his team-mates after Friday's stage and told him that
he was "useless"?
Quote of the Day: "All this talk
of rider safety... It comes down to us riders. There are some right muppets in
the peloton, even some GC riders." Sky's Geraint Thomas says it as it is.
Stage 8 prediction: Both Gerrans and Uran of Sky to feature
in the day's main break, along with Hoogerland and a few Frenchmen, including
Pierre Rolland of Europcar. Frank Schleck to take the victory ahead of Alberto
Contador and Cadel Evans, with Andy Schleck losing eight seconds. There might
be a crash or two as well.