Sir Bradley Wiggins is looking forward to returning at the Tour of Poland next month and will ride the Tour of Britain in preparation for his next major goal – the World Time Trial Championships.
Wiggins has not raced since being forced to abandon the Giro d’Italia suffering from illness and an ongoing knee problem. Those setbacks forced Wiggins out of selection for the Tour de France, where he had been looking to return as defending champion following his historic victory in 2012.
The 33 year old has spent the last month undergoing a period of rehabilitation and last week commenced training again in Majorca. Getting back on the bike has given Wiggins a renewed sense of vigour and he is relishing the prospect of ending his season on a high.
He said: “I’m injury free now. It took a while but we got to the bottom of it and I’ve just started an intensive six-week block now which will take me through to the end of July. All being well, I’ll make my comeback at the Tour of Poland.
“My main focus for the rest of this year is the World Time Trial Championships at the end of September. I’ll be riding the Tour of Britain before that as preparation, and I’m really pleased about that.
“The Tour of Britain is getting bigger every year and the crowds that come there make it a lovely race to compete in. We had looked at the possibility of riding the Vuelta a Espana instead, but the Tour of Britain was too much of a call for me. I love riding that race and I’d like to do well in it.”
It is the World Time Trial Championships that Wiggins is focusing his main attentions on though, and the prospect of battling it out for the rainbow jersey in Florence is one which excites Wiggins immensely.
“I’ve always wanted to wear the rainbow jersey,” he admitted. “When I won the time trial at the Olympics last year I thought to myself, ‘I’d love to add the World title to that’. I’m under no illusions though, it’s not going to be easy. Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara are two of the greatest time triallists of all time and it’s going to take a lot of effort to be up there with them. I’m really keen to put the work in for that over the next few months and this is something that I’ve always wanted to do.”
Brad backs Tour team
On the immediate horizon though, is the Tour de France, and while Wiggins is disappointed that he won’t be lining up with the rest of the team in Corsica on Saturday 29 June, he believes the right decision was made regarding his selection and he will be willing the team to defend the title he achieved in such dominant style last season.
He added: “There are other guys in the team that could fulfil the role of helping Chris [Froome] far better than I could have done at this stage, and knowing that is a huge relief because my biggest fear was going there and not being able to do a job for Chris.
“We’ve got such strength in depth at Team Sky at the moment. The team we have going to the Tour is certainly the strongest on paper and we’re on track to win the race again.
“I think the team is as experienced this year as it was last – and it could even be stronger this year because the squad of riders we have now is better than ever before.
“We’ve got guys like Pete [Kennaugh] and Ian [Stannard] who are both riding their first Tour so that motivation will take them up a level, and the rest of the guys are incredibly hungry for success. It’s a great team.”
Chris Froome will head into the Tour as Team Sky’s leader and Wiggins insists his team-mate deserves his chance to shine in the World’s biggest bike race.
He continued: “Chris has been the best athlete on the team this year and he deserves that leadership role. He is without a doubt the favourite for the Tour, and physically, I think he has everything there to win the Tour.
“As we see every year, crashes occur and other things that are beyond your control, but if Chris can stay upright and not lose any time before the big mountains then he’s got a great chance of winning the Tour.
“Nothing has fazed Chris this year and I think that will continue at the Tour. His biggest challenge will come from [Alberto] Contador but for sure, he’s the favourite. He’s beaten Contador at Oman and the Dauphine already, so he certainly won’t be overawed by him.”
Wiggins’s absence from the Tour, and his subsequent withdrawal from the Giro, had prompted speculation that he was considering calling time on his illustrious career, but the man himself insists that couldn’t be further from the truth and is looking forward to seeing where the next few seasons take him.
He explained: “I’ve won the Tour – achieved that goal – but there are so many other things I’ve always wanted to achieve, both in and out of the sport.
“I’ve never thought about retiring. I enjoy training, working hard, and I’ve still got much more left in me. I take inspiration from guys like Cadel [Evans] in that respect. He had a disappointing year after his Tour win but he’s right back to his best now. Cycling’s like that and I don’t think people fully appreciate how much it takes out of you, and how hard you have to work at it.
“At this stage I just want to focus on what I’ve got immediately ahead of me and then we’ll get to the end of the season and sit down as a team and start planning for the next couple of years.”