Can Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Yes.

It’s perhaps a problem with pro cycling that no sooner than one race finishes many look to the next. Win a huge event like Paris-Nice and half the questions in the press conference will be about your chances are for next July. The Tour dominates the sport.

Last year I was impressed and pleased to see Wiggins winning the Dauphiné stage race. The Alpine stage race is a top event but in recent years many riders have avoided trying too hard in case they time their form (or their fatigue) wrong for the Tour de France. But Wiggins won and continued to aim for the Tour de France. Back then I wrote I did not think he could win the Tour. I thought the route was too mountainous and suited the likes of Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador more. Plus Wiggins was more of an unknown quantity nine months ago.

Now things are different:

  • The 2012 Tour de France has over 100km of time trials, an advantage for Wiggins but also favourable to others of course
  • Wiggins seems more relaxed and confident, both in his abilities and in coping with the media.
  • Similarly Sky look much more effective. It takes time to make a team work well and the Dauphiné last year was a good sign but now things have improved.
  • Wiggins bounced back from injury to finish third in the Vuelta, add this, the Dauphiné and now Paris-Nice and you have a very complete stage racer with an impressive record.
  • Alberto Contador is banned, a massive factor for the podium places.

However, if he can win the Tour de France of course there are no certainties. Paris-Nice is a great win but many big names were not there.

The 2012 Tour has lots of time trialling but there are some surprising climbs too. Instead of the long high altitude mountain passes some stages of the race, particularly in the Jura mountains of France near Switzerland, could prove tricky to control. With steep roads – the Col du Grand Colombier hits 14% – and climbers trying to make up time all over the place, it promises to be an exciting contest with an element of the unknown. Especially because when the mountains come Team Sky will have riders shepherding Mark Cavendish at the back of the race.

Conclusion
Once a dark horse Bradley Wiggins is now a stage race thoroughbred and one of the favourites for July, thanks to a growing list of wins and a team – partially in his service. But plenty can happen, indeed Wiggins crashed out of the Tour last July. Cadel Evans will be doing his thing and there are always new challengers.

Perhaps if you asked Wiggins whether he’d sign for a podium spot in July in times past he would have agreed and grabbed the pen out your hand, who wouldn’t. Now he is being spoken of as a candidate to win in Paris.

{ 64 comments }

Pedaling the road March 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Agree, Wiggo is definitely a dark horse one could place some money on (If you’re that type). One thing I noticed this Paris-Nice with regards to last year’s Dauphine, is the way he won today. More aggressive, more in control.

He may have some troubles on shorter, more explosive climbs, but he could make me wrong in July.

dfitzger March 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Great article. I think Wiggo will podium at this years TdF, and possibly win, but I must be one of the few who doesn’t see Cuddles as a strong contender. Even with the 100+ kms of time trialing, RadioSchleck just looks to be too strong of a team with one goal focused on one person.

toby May 16, 2012 at 10:04 am

bollocks.
andy had an incredible team last year and evans quite honestly had a pretty weak one for the mountains and he still won.
no matter how strong his team is there is no way andy can win this year.
the team cant help him stop losing time in the time trials.
the team cant stop evans or sanchez attacking on the descents again and taking time
the team cant stop the other riders chasing him down in the mountains if he does get his act together and makes good effective attacks*
* by this i mean not making a quick acceleration then looking around to see if his brother is there then slowing down or sprinting away to take 2 seconds at the end of the stage. also i would advise against another move like he made on stage 18. yes it was incredible to watch but it was a stupid idea. he went from so far out he pretty much cracked near the top of the galibier and gave evans the chance to chase him down. hopefully johan bruyneel will teach him how to do it right. and for gods sakes frank, work for andy, you cant win the tour but andy still can, work for him.

Larry T. March 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Wiggins now is talked up as a Tour hope while the same is being said of Horner now that he’s in a leader’s jersey in a short, early-season stage race. I keep remembering the Irish fellow who won Paris-Nice so many times but never seemed to win the Tour in July. I think a lot of folks will have to get sick or crash (what would have happened had not Leipheimer hit the deck three times yesterday?) before Wiggo’s going to be on the top step in Paris in July. I know he’s the best hope for Brits since Chris Boardman was similarly hyped but I won’t be holding my breath waiting for Wiggins to win Le Beeg Shew anytime soon.

Simon Fielder March 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I felt Wiggins looked confident today at the start today. Whilst Dave Harmon sounded concerned that Westra was 2 secs up at the first timing point I felt that Wiggins would do it. The flatter second half of the course probably helped.
Wiggins is a TdF contender. He has a strong team surrounding him and he himself seems much more relaxed and confident than perhaps even last season. He has shown that he has ability and the 4th place in 2009 is not spoken off so regularly now replaced by the Dauphine, Vuelta and World Championships. I’ve not looked in detail regarding the course but lots of TT kms are good for Wiggins whilst steeper climbs similar to the Angliru which undid him at Vuelta are not. That said his main opposition is likely to be riders like Evans with similar strengths and weaknesses. Evans and BMC don’t seem to be firing quite yet and whilst it is early in the season Sky in comparison have already bagged lots of good wins. All this momentum should help Wiggins and might possibly hinder Evans.
Final point, might the greatest threat come from inside his own team i.e. sharing resources with Cavendish or maybe this will help him by giving the British media something else to focus on.

1) Strong Team
2) Confidence Wiggo
3) BMC not looking so good
4) Maybe the biggest risk Cavendish?

Simon Fielder March 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm

On bet365 wiggins has gone from 9/2 to 4/1 and now sits at 15/4 in a week the same as Andy Schleck to win the tour. Evans is at 7/2.

pltpqñ March 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm

@Simon Fielder

“I’ve not looked in detail regarding the course but lots of TT kms are good for Wiggins whilst steeper climbs similar to the Angliru which undid him at Vuelta are not.”

Agree, but remember that he wasn’t any impressive at all at the TT stage of La Vuelta last year. He was supposed to earn big differences and he didn’t. In fact, he lost some time to Froome that day.

I wonder what people would say about possible TdF winners if Tony Martin had won P-N again this year.

Winternet_ March 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm

One of the issues that may cause bigger problems to Wiggo is his team and his own teammate Cav. He’ll require at least 2 guys for the mountain stages (Eisel and Pate?) and 4 guys for the sprint stages (Eisel + Pate + Hagen + another guy?). Wiggo will have 4 guys to help him. Uran, Porte, Froome, Siutsou are the big names. 1 or 2 of these guys will be on the Giro and/or Vuelta. Flecha, Rogers, Lokvist, Zandio are possible candidates for the two other spots. Rogers and Lokvist if on the team would also work on the sprint stages. RadioSchack and BMC (except Gilbert for a couple of stages) will be full behind their leaders.

Higgins March 11, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Given that the question at the top was Can he and not Will he, there is no arguing that he is a contender, given the fact he has already achieved a fourth place spot and much else. Larry T may not wish to hold his breath, but if he believes Leipheimer would have beaten Wiggo without the crash, maybe hes been holding it too long already.

CAT4Fodder March 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm

If anyone saw Evans on Saturday’s stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, either he is taking a much, much more cautious approach towards coming into form, or there is something wrong with his training plan that needs to be fixed fast. He was left behind on that final climb. Sagan is the real deal.

I think we can all agree…with Contador out, BMC looking weak all around, the Schlecks looking more like the Schlecks than the Schlecks want, and a parcours that is more TT dependent than recent Tours…this is going to be a cracking rendition given that really..who is the favorite this year?

Winternet_ March 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm

@pltpqn

It’s the “Can Cancellara win a GT?” talk all over again.

ave March 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

His biggest problem might be his own team.
First because of Cavendish
Second because of Froome (Will they keep him on a leash? Again?)

But I agree he can win it. Too few mountain top finishes, long time trials (at last, they’re back!), and no Contador. His best chance.

Duluth Baptist Clydesdale March 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm

This is the best Tour for a TT specialist in years. For the first time in a long time it is conceivable for someone to win using a “Syrong TT, limit climbing losses” strategy.

If Cadel hadn’t won last year all the discussion would center on whether he would finally win. It does set up nicely for him to repeat, but it also sets up nicely for Wiggins. He has made this a priority instead of his home Olympics, so there’s no question he is all-in to win this season.

There’s really no way to know until the race hits the first high mountains. Which TT specialists are in the final group? Thats where Wiggins needs to be. The good news is that he doesn’t really need to equal the Schlecks; he needs to equal Evans.

If this weren’t an Olympic year then I would wonder if Martin or Spartacus would make the effort to train for high climbs so that they could compete in the overall. However, an Olympic TT gold beckons, and it would be unwise to jeopardize a sure-thing medal finish for a chance at a top 5 on Paris. Wiggins eschewing trailck medals for the Tour suggests he thinks his chances are very good.

Rooto March 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Contador’s ban not only frees up a podium spot, I feel it changes the dynamics of the race. One less (attacking) rider to watch, one less guy who could ‘dynamite’ the course on the Colombier or elsewhere. This can only be good for Brad.

Bundle March 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Wiggo has been a top favourite since the Tour was presented, and Paris-Nice only perhaps reiterates it (and gives him an edge over Froome). But that exactly, too much visibility, can make him vulnerable. Since the grimpers need to leave him at least 6 minutes behind in the mountains, there will be many teams (particularly since Contador will not be there to do it for them) who will try to blow the field to smithereens earlier in the race than he is used to, and attack Sky especially. Teamwork will be crucial, but he will have to dig into his reserves deeper than ever. And the Vuelta precedent, with his very average performance in the long TT and subsequent mountains stages, leave considerable room for doubt. But Wiggo surely can do it.

Winternet_ March 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Every good TTer out there is wetting his pants thinking about the Tour.

bikecellar March 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm

A win by Wiggins would certainly make (at long last) a lot of older British cycling fans very happy, if anyone had told me in the mid 60s that I would see 10 American wins and an Australian win in the Tour, before a British one, I would have laughed, nearly 50 yrs on I hope the time has come, we waited 46 yrs for that Rainbow Jersey. This summer the Yellow will follow. YES HE CAN!

Duluth Baptist Clydesdale March 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Bundle, I understand your argument, but I just don’t see any teams capable of destroying the field enough hurt Sky, especially since BMC will be interested in maintaining field integrity for Evans. Perhaps Johan Bruyneel will pull brilliant strategy out of his sleeve to send Andy clear, but we’ve seen Andy at his attacking best still not take enough time from Cadel to win, in a Tour with far fewer TT kilometers.

My back-of-the-mental-envelope guestimations suggest that Wiggins will need to stay within 1:30 of Evans in the mountains, and within 4 of a Schleck. To be safe both margins would have to be lower. Unknown changes in form or ability will of course change the calculus. His best bet is to stay in the select groups with Evans, who will not blow up the race, and let the chips fall (think the Pyrenees last year). If he can stay in those groups consistently he has a chance to win the Tour in the TTs.

Ablindeye March 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm

First off a disclaimer that I’m totally biased due to the novelty of having a British rider who is a genuine GC contender in the biggest stage races. With that noted the route is clearly favourable and there’s nothing like an Angliru to contend with – Wiggins has stated he’s worked on the steeper climb vulnerability too (I know the Schlek’s say they work on their TTing all the time but still!). I’m also of the opinion that a 5th place finish on the Angliru a few weeks after returning from injury ahead of names like Nibali, Rodriguez, Anton and Van den Broeck doesn’t represent an insurmountable weakness.

The team looks strong, with support likely to come from 4 genuine super domestiques. I also think, rather than being a huge compromise, the inclusion of Cavendish will take some of the focus and pressure away, especially with a stage win or 2 in the bag. Quality support in the high mountains will be more important than quantity – so long as 1 or 2 of Porte, Froome, Sivtsov and Uran are there late in the day. I expect most teams would be more than happy to have that much potential mountain stage support on their roster that could be in the front group right to the death. Indeed I would question whether any team could field more than 4 anyway of sufficient quality to be useful teammates in the high mountain passes?

Of course it’s only March and the proof is the pudding come July. He can win but he’s not a favourite to do so. Talking of favourites I know Wiggins comes in for some flak due to his style of riding – TTing up a mountain climb is not what everyone wants to see, which I can fully understand and appreciate, but he has to work with what he’s got and that clearly isn’t the explosivity of a Gilbert or Rodriguez.

pltpqñ March 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm

@Duluth Baptist Clydesdale

Movistar is always a strong team in Grand Tours and Valverde aims to a podium spot. That’s a team that might (and should) try to blow up the race.

The Inner Ring March 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Great debate so far. I’ll make extra points…

First the piece is a follow up where I asked if he could win the Tour in 2011 and replied “no”. Two letters was a bit cruel but he is at least a contender.

Second, the Tour is biased towards time triallist this year… on paper. In reality there are some tough finishes and steep climbs and unless Cancellara and even Martin can lose large amounts of weight… they’ll lose 10 minutes if not more on the mountain stages.

Martin W March 12, 2012 at 12:21 am

@Ablindeye

“I’m also of the opinion that a 5th place finish on the Angliru a few weeks after returning from injury ahead of names like Nibali, Rodriguez, Anton and Van den Broeck doesn’t represent an insurmountable weakness.”

Right – last year’s Vuelta looked almost designed for Rodriguez or Anton to win, Rodriguez in particular was raring to go having not ridden the Tour because of Katusha’s weird all-Russian selection decision. But neither of them made the top 3.

I wonder what Sky will do at the Giro this year – could they potentially have Froome ride that instead of the Tour? He seems to have a bit more of an attacking kick on steep climbs than Wiggins.

Ablindeye March 12, 2012 at 12:55 am

@ Martin W re: the Giro – I wonder whether Sky might go heavilly in favour of stage wins via a Cavendish centric team maybe with a bit of youth and TdF back ups/token GC rider included. In other words all the climbing heavy weights saved for July. Will be interesting to see.

Paul I. March 12, 2012 at 12:59 am

Definitely agree that Wiggins has a great chance this year. All the talk about Sky riding for Cavendish misses the point that Sky is loaded with good climbers (Porte, Froome, Uran, Henao, Siutsou …), so it’s unlikely that he will ever be as isolated in the mountains as Evans was last year.

Speaking of Evans, he has to be considered the main favorite, especially as he is also a superb time-triallist, and more explosive than Wiggins in the mountains. But he won’t have as much support, other than Van Garderen who else can be there in the high mountain finishes?

Andy Schleck? Not on this parcours. He should have won last year, it may have been his best chance ever (I don’t count his gifted 2010 “win”)

TotheBillyoh March 12, 2012 at 1:59 am

Bikecellar. We hear your pain. Some things are just not meant to be.

Sky surely cannot keep Cav winning and the wind off Wiggo at the same time, as others here have suggested?

Duluth Baptist Clydesdale March 12, 2012 at 2:04 am

@ inrng, I wouldn’t put it past Martin to try for the weight loss… except that it would jeopardize his “favorite” status for a TT gold medal this year. Cancellara has, to me, conclusively demonstrated that he has little realistic interest in grand tour GC placements, focusing instead on being incredible in classics and time trials.

I agree that Evans is the favorite. Last year I expected nothing from him on a mountain-heavy course and he won the race in brilliant fashion; this year the course finally seems to suit his strengths and he knows he can win it. I have no reason not to believe he’ll be in control throughout.

Simma March 12, 2012 at 4:07 am

the real questions should be, if he can, why can’t chris froome? why is almost nobody talking about him? and are team sky seriously that blind?

i watched all the eurosport vuelta coverage and he worked wayyyyy harder than brad, granted brad was coming off an injury and probably not on top form, but with backing chris would have definitly won the vuelta (the fact sky didn’t let him is the only reason i will be cheering for the schlecks…)

and whoever brought up the talk of can cancellara win a GT? he’s looking pretty cut this year, think that old topic will be rehashed all year long

Cd March 12, 2012 at 4:48 am

I have doubts.

1) Too fit too early in the season.

2). Sky is a pompous squad. They’ll act like they’re favorites and ride the first week that way, controlling all the stages for Cav and Wiggo and thus will be wasted by week 2.

Juliano March 12, 2012 at 4:51 am

I am wanting to see an interesting race for the GC, now that Berty has gone its going to lose some of that panache. Wiggins’ Marginal gains GC 1%er style riding is as interesting to watch as Jersey Shore. Froome and Porte are a lot more exciting although they are resigned to bringing their chapstick and having domestique duties.

I’m behind Cadel, he has shown that it takes riding the front in the Big Dog up the bergs (and seeing your rivals go out the ass) to win the tour.

Todd March 12, 2012 at 5:59 am

Wait…are we really using form in early March (in a race where all of the Tour contenders are not present and correct) to forecast results in July?
No doubt Wiggins has stepped up his game in the past couple of years, and could possibly win the Tour, but let’s talk probability…I challenge any one of you to place a year’s legitimate salary on a bet on Wiggins. More power to you if you win…since he’ll be a longshot bet. If everything goes perfectly (and when does it?), he’s legit. However, look at the depth of the likely field this year, and you’ll see plenty of prospects with TT ability who will take some time out of him in the mountains.
Watch this space…anyone who steps up in a week-long stage race from here until July (and talks about Tour ambitions) will be touted as The Next Big Thing. Most will fold under the pressure of the Tour contender expectations.

toby May 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

true, you cant use 1 week stage race wins to judge a tour contenders form, but then when you consider the 4th in the 2009 tour and 3rd in the 2011 vuelta it seems much more realistic and his strong climbing in the dauphine while only a week long race, still shows he has the form in the high alps to stay with the best.
its impossible to judge a tour winner this early. last year everybody thought andy would win until evans came to the front and showed he had the form. who knows maybe this year we’ll see sanchez or menchov step up and surprise us all. hell, maybe even schleck will suddenly man up and make good effective, sensible attacks (by this i mean not pathetic mini attacks a la stage 14 and ridiculously over ambitious attacks a la stage 18) we just dont know yet
it’s the tour de france. you cant be sure who’s going to win until they cross the line on the champs elysees.

Frogboy March 12, 2012 at 6:16 am

I have to agree with the meaning behind @Juliano’ s post. Time Trial may be cycling reduced to its essence, a pure show of individual strength and endurance but it makes for dull viewing. Bradley Wiggins may win races but he is boring to watch. I get the feeling that under his helmet ticks the mind of a bean counter. Contador has the name of an accountant but he is exciting, too bad he won’t be racing this summer. So I guess I’ll be rooting for Jeremy Roy and Johnny Hoogerland, who have no GC ambition but put on a good show…

toby May 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

you have no idea how much i want to see jeremy roy win a stage this year. he should attack on stage 3, its hilly and gives the breakaway a good chance and because its so early in the race he might even get yellow, green and polka dot in one go

Frogboy March 12, 2012 at 6:30 am

So, to answer the question “Can Wiggins win the Tour?”. I also think that he can, but so can Jerome Coppel, Thomas Voeckler, Lieuwe Westra and any of the 170 odd racers that will make it to Paris after 3 weeks of racing. The most important step in order to win is showing up and as long as he’s on the starting line, he has a chance.

beev March 12, 2012 at 9:03 am

first of all – yes he can, and i think his odds are fair given all we have seen.

that said, as soon as i saw the route i bet on cancellara and martin – i felt they offered unbelievable value where i got on (and where indeed you can still get on with the former). the lack of early season form for martin is not so much of a worry either, however recent comments by cancellara looking to be solely olympic focussed have left me feeling less confident about that wager – i’m just telling myself that this is just bruyneel pulling the strings/playing games. in my opinion, andy schleck has 6 minutes plus potentially to find on the non-TT stages, something i do not think he can do, so there is real merit for the team to work for cancellara and indeed horner before either schleck – and i think fabian agrees this year judging by his comments on how his performances in 2011 were affected by helping others in failed attempts at victory.

finally, if they try to make andy something he is not – namely a TT’er – i feel he will lose being what he is – a climber! This is something that we have seen throughout the years of pro cycling with so many other featherweights, and if this were to be the case, it would not be unimaginable to even see andy being ridden off the wheel on some of the climbs….

Gavin March 12, 2012 at 9:47 am

I think a lot of the comments about Wiggins being boring miss the point somewhat. As a rider he is making the most of the abilities he has and playing to his strengths. Yes – it is exciting seeing riders like De Gendt or Voeckler go on the attack but unless you are a specialist climber that is not the way to win Grand Tours. Being British I would love to see Wiggin’s win the TdF and he goes there with a good chance. As others point out so will many others and I certainly wouldn’t take the prices being offered by the UK bookmakers. Nibali has looked equally impressive in the early season and until the Dauphine and Tour de Suisse it’s difficult to gauge who is in what form.

bikecellar March 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

@ Frogboy, I did not find stage 2 of Paris Nice boring, Wiggins was one of the main animators of the break of 21 riders, nor the final TT which went right to the wire. Indurain and Anquetil both relied heavily on their TT ability and they won 5 tours each, if Wiggins wins the next 3 tours in like manner, then come back to me.

Go Oz March 12, 2012 at 11:00 am

Wiggo does’t have a real good chance this year, mainly because by July Sky will be riding for Porte & Cav! ;) Wiggo will make a great super donestic for Richie by then :)

toby May 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

wiggins as a domestique… working for porte…
i’m not even going to bother explaining why this is a stupid idea

Ian March 12, 2012 at 11:19 am

It was great to watch Wiggins triumph yesterday, even my (young) kids were on the sofa shouting for him and talking about team kits and where riders were from and asking me “Daddy would I be better at the King of the Mountains or as a time trialist?”

Question though for those of you who know about this stuff – as I was watching Wiggins ride I could’nt take me eyes off the front chainrings which appeared to be oval (commentators were describing them as elliptical no less) I’ve never seen these before and no one else appeared to be using them. Were my eyes deceiving me or were they indeed oval and if so why what advantage does this possibly give that a normal round design does not ?

James March 12, 2012 at 11:39 am

Yes, Wiggins has been using elliptical rings for some time. A few other pros have also used them, but not that many. The brand is O-Symmetric (Rotor also makes a similar product). The basic idea is that your legs do not produce constant power throughout the pedal stroke, so you could maximize potential by having a higher gear at peak power points and a lower gear at dead spots. I’ve seen some people claim big gains, some marginal and some none at all.

All I know is they look goofy, are quite expensive, and make it hard to set up your front derailleur.

Chuffy March 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Shimano used to make Biopace rings back in the 80s/90s. Very similar.
Seems to be one of those ideas that gets recycled every now and again.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biopace

Ian March 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm

@James @Chuffy – thanks

Big Mikey March 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Yeah, Wiggins CAN win the tdf.
But, he WON’T.

He’s now the official dark horse candidate everyone talks themselves into, just like VandeVelde, Ryder, Michael Rogers, Mayo, etc. before him. Fact is, the Vuelta wasn’t full of powerful gt contenders, and he still blew it. Add to this, Sky’s split focus between BW and MC, and it will likely end in disaster.

Fact is, if the Schlecks learn to TT credibly well, it won’t matter.

cycletard (@cycletard) March 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Interesting piece and excellent comments from the peanut gallery. I’m still not convinced, though, about Wiggo’s overall abilities in a three-week race after the way he struggled behind Froome at the Vuelta. Particularly if, as has been mentioned, much of Sky will be nursing Cav through the mountains again to keep the Manx Missile in green.

Putting on my editor’s hat for a moment – a Thoroughbred is a breed of horse, just as is a Hanoverian, a Friesian, and an Arabian. As such, it demands capitalization. It’s not a generic catch-all term for a race horse. Referring to Wiggo as a “stage race thoroughbred” is just plain wrong. He’s more of a Mod Mustang.

Jaas March 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I wouldn’t be worried about Cavendish being a burden. He will simply hold on to one of the team cars going up the hill.

Evans and BMC will be fine in July.

You know who isn’t gonna win….Andy Schleck. I just got that feeling.

My speculative podium 3 months early 1) Evans 2) Wiggins 3) Horner

toby May 16, 2012 at 10:54 am

why is everybody forgetting about sanchez!!!!!! he won the polka dots last year, came 7th in the final time trial and won at luz ardiden and came second on plateau de beille and alpe d’huez and goes downhill like a crazy person which brings something to mind…
why is nobody considering all the DOWNHILL finishes this year, which will give riders like evans, hesjedal (both ex MTBers) and sanchez an edge over the others. i havent seen wiggins display any particular descending skill but we might see this if we see a repeat of last years stage 16 (ie short little climb then fast and daring descent to the finish)

Kim March 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Contre-La-Montre, – every second produced from watt/weight ratio balance counts…sure I would like to see a allrounder win Le Tour or any GT in the next years.

Ullrich quote: “I have seen many lean riders in the peloton, but very few Tour winners”!!!
http://thesportfactory.com/site/trainingnews/goinguphillfast.shtml

If Indurain can do it, – so could Cancelara aka Spartacus :-) but maybe we have to wait for next year as its Olympics and revenge on the classics that counts in 2012.

- Indurain 188cm (6,2) & 80kg (176lbs) – in top condition 78kg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Indurain

Ullrich 183cm (6,0) & ?? 76kg (178lbs) –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Ullrich

Cancellara 186 (6,1) & 80kg (176lbs)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabian_Cancellara

Toby March 13, 2012 at 12:02 am

Personally I think that Wiggins can win the Tour because he is now a proven stage race competitor. A fourth place in the Tour, third in a Vuelta with climbs completely unsuited to his style and having been sidelined due to an injury, Dauphine win and Paris-Nice win as well as a podium last year. He can clearly compete, the team looks strong and he looked very much in control throughout Paris-Nice. Plus, lets not forget he won silver at the World TT champs. With 100km of time trialling, he could put a lot of time into the others.

And to those who say the way he rides boring because time trialling up a mountain is dull and they would rather see attacks. Would you not say Wiggins hitting the front on the climb in the Vuelta with the crosswinds (can’t remember the stage) and blowing the likes of Rodriguez and Nibali out the back door was exciting? It’s not a traditional out of the seat attack but I would definitely see it as an attack and it blew the race to pieces putting a lot of riders into the red. That’s what makes a race interesting and that’s what Wiggins can and has done.

Pete Underdown March 13, 2012 at 1:02 am

Let me put this in Wiggo-speak:
bollocks.
1 bad day in mountains = 14th place in Paris

Stuart March 13, 2012 at 1:18 am

A thoroughbred is not a breed of horse. It’s a generic catch-all term for horses that belong to any of a number of recognised breeds. Hanoverian, Friesian, etc. are the names of breeds, and come from the names of places or people. They are thus capitalised. Thoroughbred is not, and needn’t be capitalised. In my uninformed opinion.

And Bradley W might be able to win the TdF. It’s a long shot, but there’s no one who looks a certainty, and it will be so good watching him try. As long as he doesn’t break his little key (clavicle) again.

RexGlobetrotter March 13, 2012 at 2:18 am

I believe Wiggo can win the Tour and the way he and Sky has progressed it feels like the momentum is heading in that right direction. I have always believe that to win the Tour you have to know how to win stage races. Over the past 2 years Sky has figured this out and Wiggins can do anything he sets his mind to. Sky and Wiggo have figured out how to control a stage race lead over many days and now they have the talent to pull this deal off.

All of the Cav talk is legitimate but who is to say that Cav rides the TdF? With the Olympics right after the end of the Tour, I can’t see Cav riding for more than a week and a half. Sky will not bring a sprint heavy team just for 1 week, they won’t need the full train for that period of time.

Finally, look back at this point last year…who on here that Cadel would win the TdF? Look at how Cadel figured out how to win this race and it’s clear that Wiggo is on the same path.

toby May 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

this year cav has really shown he is far less dependant on a full lead out. as long as he is near the front when he launches his sprint he has a good shot. really he just needs a couple of guys in front of him (eisel and boasson hagen) to make a surge to the front in the final kms to carry him up and deliver him to the line

cycletard (@cycletard) March 13, 2012 at 2:25 am

Sorry, Stuart, but as a breeder of Thoroughbreds, I will have to expertly disagree with you here. Your opinion is just that, uninformed. Look it up if you don’t believe me. http://www.toba.org/

TotheBillyoh March 13, 2012 at 3:28 am

The quality of the comments on this blog are an important part of it’s appeal to me. I like people with strong opinions but find sniping a distasteful turn-off. We are obviously a disparate group; from many cultures and hence need to be a little careful about making criticisms of others when our views may well be valid only as they are applied in our own language/culture. (And yes I have been guilty of this previously.)

Wikipedia says of Thoroughbred : “The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered “hot-blooded” horses, known for their agility, speed and spirit.”

In Australia I don’t believe we would capitalise the word in everyday usage. I also don’t believe that many Australian fans would assign ‘thoroughbred’ status to Bradley. (Nor to Cadel for that matter.) That epithet belongs more rightly to riders like Cancellara, in my opinion. Wiggo can win the TDF but if he does so it will not be with agility or spirit, it will be with his head and, as always, luck (and the right teamwork). I wish him well.

Prashanth Bhat March 13, 2012 at 8:16 am

@inrng Great article and comments. My question is Can Cadel Win the Tour again this year…?

daniel March 13, 2012 at 8:32 am

If Wiggins doesn’t win the Tour this year, with Contador out & the big TT kms, he never will.

Stuart March 13, 2012 at 9:04 am

Thank you, cycletard and TotheBillyoh for teaching me something about horses! I shall have to make sure I don’t use Thoroughbred as an adjective as if it meant well-bred.

I suppose the TdeF is like a horse race that has flat stages, others with jumps, and some where a light carriage has to be pulled.

Andy L March 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I think he has a great chance in light of the course and his obvious good form to make the podium. I do wonder if the TT gains will be enough – can you see him attacking on a mountain stage to take time?? Is he capable of doing that if he needs to? Im doubtful.

It will interesting how the team deal with Cav and Wiggins. But also if they take Froome – would he again have to wait for his team leader when he could be up the mountain road with the lead group?? I dont really understand why Froome didnt go to another team after the Vuelta performance, but thats off topic.

On another note – if I was Tony Martin I would be totally focussed on this tour, he could do great things on that course. Hes world TT champion, in my opinion the Olympic title should be an after thought.

Larry T. March 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

Higgins – I’m no fan-boy of Leipheimer but a Wikipedia comparison of his vs Wiggins palmares would not make anyone (except maybe a Brit, which I noted with my reference to the last great British hope, Chris Boardman, who was similarly touted as someone who could win LeTour) think Wiggins an overwhelming favorite over Leipheimer in a stage race.

al March 14, 2012 at 7:57 pm

@ Stuart 09:04
classy réponse – I expected no less of this site, for sure it beats the internet wars elsewhere

Puddle Jumper March 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Higgins, I would not get so excited as to place Wiggins above Leipheimer. Levi wins many more stage races than Wiggo, every year, and has placed higher than Wiggins in both the Vuelta (while working for AC) and Tour. And those races both featured AC, which bumps everyone else down a step.

Wiggins is realizing his potential, and he will continue to improve, but he’s not nearly as accomplished as Levi Leipheimer. Yet.

StevhanTI March 15, 2012 at 10:10 am

About Tony ‘Panzer’ Martin, I saw an interview with him on TV, he looks sharp man. And he is clearly not aiming to excel in the classics given his performances so far.

Ted July 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Turns out he most definitely CAN win The Tour. And in some style too!

Allez Wiggo!

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