Tour de France - Wiggins makes no promises at Tour start

Thu, 30 Jun 13:22:00 2011

Podium is a word that Bradley Wiggins rejects as premature when it comes to the Tour de France.

- 0

Victory in one of the leading pre-Tour races this month, the Criterium du Dauphine, put the pursuit Olympic champion back among the contenders although the Briton has learnt from experience not to make forecasts before Saturday's start.

"Six months ago, I was nobody, I was written off after last year's race," said the Team Sky leader, who finished a disappointing 24th in the 2010 Tour one year after narrowly missing the podium.

His fourth place in 2009 led to suggestions that he might become the first Briton on the Tour podium, a view he never voiced himself.

"I don't think I've mentioned podium once this season. The goal remains the same. Podium is not necessarily a mark of success. I could be 4th, 5th and 6th and not do anything wrong," he told a news conference.

"For the time being, it's just about going out and we'll have this talk in Paris."

The Dauphine win, arguably Wiggins's most important victory on the road, has put him back in the spotlight.

"I'm back in the line and your questions speak for themselves. But I just keep the same focus since last November when we sat down with this team and made plans," he said.

He said he had always planned for the Dauphine to be a stepping stone to the Tour, rather than a goal in itself.

"Behind the scenes, there was a plan and a coaching team and everything was towards July and to pick for July. The next two weeks will be the test really," he said before the race begins in the Vendee region.

Wiggins underlined his current good form by winning the British championship last weekend.

"I'm lighter, fitter plus I have two or three years more experience which counts a lot in the Tour," he said.

"In 2009, I could do no wrong. I started the race as no one and finished it as someone.

"After doing so well, last year was always going to be a disaster. I did not fulfill my potential in that Tour de France. This year I'm certainly as ready as I've ever been on a Tour."

Wiggins has arguably a better team around him this season, with excellent all-rounders like Norway's Edvald Boasson-Hagen and compatriot Geraint Thomas but also talented mountaineers like Spain's Xabier Zandio and Colombia's Rigoberto Uran.

While Sunday's 23-km team time trial in Les Essarts suits Team Sky perfectly and could help their leader take the yellow jersey, Wiggins is aware that a lot will depend on his main rivals' condition.

"I'm in the form of my life. I've done everything I can but it also depends on the form the others are in," he said.

"A lot will depend on whether Alberto (Contador) recovered from the Giro and whether Andy (Schleck) turned his form from (the Tour de) Suisse. From the Giro I'd say Alberto is the favourite."

Reuters

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account