Thursday, 30 June 2011

Wiggo lists Bertie as favourite

The British cycling star has downplayed his own chances of taking a top three finish in the year's Tour de France while being careful to point out he's got a much better chance of repeating his 2009 success than he did last year due to the excellent team he now has to assist him - and also making sure he mentions his current good form.

"I'm lighter, fitter - plus I have two or three years' more experience," says the 31-year-old, who recently won the Criterium Dauphine, considered a good indicator of Tour potential. So who is Wiggo's top Tour tip?  "From the Giro [d'Italia], I'd say Alberto is favourite," he says.

However, Alberto - Contador, Spanish winner of two Tours - has been tellin reporters he's found it difficult to recover from the Giro. He's been known to downplay his own prospects before a major event, and also has a doping allegation hanging over him and faces a court appearance just days after the Tour finishes. He may be sandbagging, but either one of these factors could have an effect on anyone's chances.

If so, that leaves Andy Schleck, the Luxembourger who made Contador look distinctly uncomfortable last year until his chain came off and allowed the Spaniard to gain a 39" lead over him and who, if he's on top form, is one of the best climbers in cycling.

...or Schleck? Who cares?
If it turns out Wiggins can't keep up with these two he has nothing to be ashamed of at all - simply being spoken of in the same breath as them is an honour for any cyclist.

But that still leaves a third place on the podium, and going by Wiggins' form so far this year he has as good a chance as anyone else of standing on it once the race is over. Best not to dwell on that too much just yet, though - it's only a little over three weeks away and then we'll all have to wait another 49 weeks for the next Tour. This year's route looks set to offer some of the best, fastest, hardest and most exciting racing we've seen in a while, so let's just enjoy it while we can.

Viva la velo!

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