Fresh from his victory at the Criterium du Dauphine Bradley Wiggins will now turn his attention towards the Tour de France.
Sunday’s win was the eighth of what has already been a remarkable season for the 32-year-old, moving him back up to third in the UCI WorldTour rankings in the process.
Yet Wiggins remains focused on the biggest prize in cycling, crossing the line arms aloft in Chatel just 20 days ahead of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.
A crash and subsequent heart-breaking broken collarbone meant Wiggins flew home early from the 2011 edition, left to wonder what could have been. Almost 12 months on, having enjoyed a superb campaign as British national champion on the road, Wiggins is in a stronger position than ever heading into the world’s biggest bike race.
The only man to ever win Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine in the same season, Wiggins is keen to take in those achievements heading into the month of July.
“This is all a road to winning the Tour hopefully, that’s the goal. But at the same time along the way I have to stop and think, ‘hang on a minute, I’ve just won Paris-Nice and Romandie and the Dauphine again,’” he said.
“You have to take that in otherwise they’re meaningless. It’s nice to be able to reflect on these wins because a lot of riders would like to win Paris-Nice or Romandie or the Dauphine in their career, let alone three in the same year.
“So I have certainly enjoyed what I’ve done this year, it means a lot to me regardless of what happens at the Tour now. But obviously the Tour is what it’s all been about.”
With numerous wins under his belt, a strong team around him and the knowledge of how to defend a race lead, Wiggins feels he is in a strong position as the Tour looms large.
He admits: “I think this year I’ve had a good run at it now and I think this is the best shape I’ve been in to win the Tour. My time trialling has improved, my climbing’s improved, my team is really strong and they have improved. I’m ready to go. The best athlete will win in the Tour. It’s not going to be easy; it’s probably going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But if the Tour was easy to win everyone would do it. That’s what the challenge has been for me, and that’s what makes it so big that I’m willing to sacrifice the things I do to do it.
“I’ve just won the Dauphine for the second time; there are not many riders who have done that. Just looking down the list of winners, you’ve got (Miguel) Indurain, Lance (Armstrong), (Bernard) Hinault won it three times. You’re adding your name to a very special list that will be there for the rest of your life.”
Wiggins will now begin his final preparations in a bid to claim yellow over three weeks, concluding; “It’s only two and a half weeks from now before we have to be back at the Tour. It’s the perfect amount of time and it’s a really nice way to finish the Tour preparations. The next two weeks are about freshening up and putting on the finishing touches like prologue work so we’re ready for Liege.”