Wiggins wins Paris-Nice in style

Sun, 11 Mar 14:01:00 2012

Bradley Wiggins soared to Britain's first overall win in the Paris-Nice in 45 years with an agonisingly close victory in the final uphill time trial to Col D'Eze.

2012 Paris Nice Bradley Wiggins - 0

The 31-year-old Team Sky rider beat Dutchman Lieuwe Westra by two seconds in the 9.6-kilometre dash from Nice and eight seconds overall to claim his biggest victory since the Criterium du Dauphine last June.

Spain's Alejandro Valverde finished third on the final podium, one minute and 10 seconds back.

Wiggins said he was proud to be one of just two Britons to win the eight-day stage race and the first since his cycling hero Tom Simpson in 1967.

"I know my cycling history and this is an enormous achievement," he said.

"It's an honour to be up there with Tom Simpson."

Wiggins, who will be among the overall contenders when the Tour de France starts from Liege in Belgium on June 30, had paid tribute to the late British rider in 2009 when the world's biggest race went up the Mont Ventoux - where Simpson died a few months after his Paris-Nice triumph.

Wiggins wins Paris-Nice in style

Two seconds behind Westra half-way up the winding, well-surfaced climb from Nice to Col D'Eze, the triple Olympic track gold medallist said he had to pull out all the stops to claim the win.

"It was a very tough final time trial and I knew that Westra was very strong after he'd won that stage midweek," said Wiggins.

"But in terms of pressure it was nothing compared to an Olympic track final.

"You can enjoy the moment, I was confident of my ability and today I rode it perfect."

Simultaneously defeated both overall and on the stage, Westra put a brave face on his disappointment at having come so close.

"Bradley was stronger today and I ended up losing the time trial by very little," he said.

"But I'm also pleased because I've never been so strong as this week."

Wiggins said he hoped his dominating performance in this year's Paris-Nice, the 70th of its history, was a good omen for the Tour.

"I don't know if I'm a favourite but I'm one of maybe five riders who can do something there (overall) this summer," Wiggins mused.

"I said Paris-Nice was a stepping stone, no disrespect for Paris-Nice. But I must continue that progression to July."

Wiggins finished fourth overall on the Tour in 2009 but could not repeat the performance the following year and crashed out early in the race in 2011.

His Paris-Nice performance suggested this year he has what it takes to become the first Briton to win the Tour.

Reuters

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