Should Wiggins Skip The Tour de France?

Friday, 2 November 2012

Bradley Wiggins Tour de France 2013

There’s talk of aiming for the Giro in 2013 instead of returning to defend the Tour de France. Whilst French sensibilities might be offended if the defending champion gives July a miss, the whole sport stands to gain… including the Tour de France.

It’s rare for the Tour de France winner not to return in defence of their title. 2007 winner Alberto Contador and his Astana team were barred from racing in the 2008 race because of the team’s incendiary reputation. Before his past caught up with him Lance Armstrong retired at the end of 2005 instead of defend his now vacated title. In 1999 Marco Pantani was ejected from the Giro for excessive blood values and didn’t do the Tour but circumstances meant the choice wasn’t free. The 1985 winner Bernard Hinault returned the following year to help Greg LeMond but was quickly helping himself so this isn’t the greatest example. Crowdsourcing on Twitter brought up 1973 and Eddy Merckx joined the Molteni team and rode the Vuelta (then in April) then the Giro and skipped the Tour in July, but riding the first two grand tours was a demand of his new employers. If not, we go back to Jacques Anquetil in 1965. There’s very little precedent of a rider turning down the chance to defend their Tour de France.

Forza il Giro
By opting for the Giro Wiggins will do the race plenty of good, bringing new interest to the race. It’s said “the race makes the rider” and “no rider is bigger than the race” but having the Tour winner declare they want to win the Giro is a big asset for the Giro and Italian cycling.

There’s also a whiff of business here. The company behind the Giro is keen to promote the race. I always enjoy the race but a constant criticism is that it looks like the Italian stage race championships and it struggles to attract an international following. RCS have sought to remedy this and one policy is creating incentives for non-Italians to ride. Look at Lance Armstrong in 2009 who was awarded a very large appearance fee although this turned sour during the race after he started to refuse interviews, thus reducing the coverage he brought to the race. Right now RCS are working on a deal to share revenues with teams who participate, especially if they bring star riders. So Wiggins’ and Sky’s decision could be motivated by money too, if not centrally then marginally. And if there’s no cash changing hands, just look at the course and Stage 8 with its 55km time trial. Stile inglese.

Giro time trial stage 2013

Sky Italia
Sky Italia
On the subject of Italian business I don’t know if this influences the choice but Sky are one quarter Italian as Sky Italia owns 25% of the team. The media company has no interest in France although obviously what happens in July goes global more than anything else on the calendar. But Sky have a big TV operation in Italy and having their name all over rival RAI’s broadcasts during the month of May is surely something Sky’s corporate management would crave?

Double trouble?
It’s too early to know but Wiggins is still talking about riding the Tour, although in service of Chris Froome. Anything can happen between now and the end of June. Riders in the past have successfully combined the Giro and Tour and it seems when the combo works then doing both races becomes fashionable but as soon as the approach doesn’t work for a few high profile riders then this falls out of fashion. So riding, or even winning, the Giro doesn’t exclude winning the Tour. Plus there’s a lot of variability, Wiggins could start the Giro but crash out or get sick, setting him up for the Tour de France.

Wiggins interview

Tougher than dealing with Nibali?

French Pride
Not defending a Tour title is almost unheard of and seems almost ungrateful. The Tour has made Wiggins and so to go public about skipping it or returning as a mere team mate is bound to upset Gallic pride. But Wiggins has done plenty for ASO, his wins in Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné have arguably raised the profile of these races and we can see big efforts from England’s Yorkshire region to host the Grand Départ of the Tour soon which will see ASO shakedown British residents for a claimed €10 million and a lot of the political justification for the British bid is linked to the popularity of Wiggins’ win. And if Chris Froome perfects his already decent French then he could be the star next July.

Why The Tour Could Win
ASO might also hope the absence of Wiggins could enliven the 2013 Tour. Wiggins’ display was impressive from a performance or sports-science perspective but the high tempo riding didn’t make for good TV, Wiggins was almost never out of the saddle and the only time he appeared to be in difficulty was thanks to the media rather than Vincenzo Nibali or Cadel Evans. So privately ASO and the French TV producers might prefer a different approach. That said if Chris Froome and Sky return the tactics should be similar.

The Art of the The Possible
There’s also the chance of losing. Last year was perfect for Wiggins, long on time trials and short on climbing and I tipped Wiggins to win the moment the route was unveiled and continued to do so once Alberto Contador was told to stay at home and when the Briton won Paris-Nice. Come July and there was no doubt about the winner. But Sky play the percentages and perhaps they’d prefer a greater probability of winning the Giro?

Also aged 32 he’s bound to have thoughts there are not too many years left. A keen student of cycling history – as a neo-pro he could recite the brand of shoes others had worn during their career – perhaps he’d prefer the higher chance of a Giro win than a Tour win?

Conclusion
Should Wiggins skip the Tour? The simple answer is Wiggins can do what he likes and his outfit at the Tour de France presentation testifies to this. We’re a long way from getting the startsheet of the Giro and Tour but the precedent of a victorious rider skipping the Tour de France is rare. Wiggins has said he could help Froome in the Tour and if he starts then, as we say every July, anything can happen.

There are some business justifications to put the Giro first, it suits both Sky and RCS plus ASO can only be grateful to Wiggins for plugging them into the large British market and besides, Chris Froome offers a British back-up with an African twist. Talk of business might leave romantic hearts sinking but always remember the Tour de France was created to sell newspapers and teams ride around in the name of their sponsors, the sport is openly commercial.

If business doesn’t appeal to you then it works in other ways too. Arguably the sport will be better served with a broader calendar rather than the high peak of July that casts a shadow over everything else. There’s a long way to go before Wiggins even starts the Giro yet alone finishes it or even wins it. But the mere act of talking about this chips away the Tour de France and elevates the Giro.

SPJ November 2, 2012 at 11:23 am

I side more with the argument that it is good news if Wiggins publicly prioritises the Giro, as it reminds the sporting public that there is more to Pro cycling than the Tour. This is something which always grated on me during the Armstrong years because in terms of media coverage it sometimes seemed like there was the Tour and then a load of meaningless support races which deserved no recognition. As the current winner and media darling, Wiggins is in the ideal position to influence interest in and coverage of the events he chooses to enter.

This is not to say that the Tour’s status should or indeed will be diminished. If anything the return of AC and Schleck (A), together with the anticipated challenge of Froome and possibly one or two other familiar names, will hopefully provide more than enough drama to satisfy the organisers and viewers.

At a point in time when it might serve cycling better to draw the focus away from the Tour, some of the other excellent events on the calendar – which I should add hardly need an introduction to most continental European markets – are well placed to help share the load and show sports fans how much more the sport has to offer.

Larry T. November 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm

+1

Mark Bom November 2, 2012 at 11:41 am

Personally, if I was Wiggins, I’d go for the Giro. At his age I’d be keen to have the Giro in my palmarés as well and by riding the Tour in support of Froome he’d still be defending champion, and possible Giro winner, but without the pressure of being out raced by Contador.

InTheGC November 2, 2012 at 11:50 am

Love that photo.

For what it’s worth I’d like to see Wiggins at the Tour – just to go head to head with Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador and see how his climbing fairs against them rather than the second tier climbers at this years Tour.

Jason November 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I think this is why Wiggins is targeting the Giro. Frankly I don’t think he has the punchiness of AC, A. Schleck, Valverde, etc. to be able to hang with the off-tempo riding. Then again I probably would have said the same thing about Evans and he came out alright in 2011.

If I were Froome, one thing I’d be wondering about is if the team around him in July will be fresh or will they have burnt their matches helping Wiggo in the Giro. He’s going to need some help neutralizing the attacks but we could see that similar to the Vuelta he could become isolated.

In any event the Giro in my opinion is the race of the year and if Wiggins can bring some additional exposure to the race than that’s a net positive for everyone.

And for the TDF, I’m excited to see the dynamic with Evans and Van Garderen. Personally I see TJ emerging as the captain.

BC November 2, 2012 at 11:58 am

My hunch, from seeing the profile of SKY 20113, is that they intend to be a major factor in all three grand tours. For the team it doesn’t really matter who leads in each. It would probably suit SKY if Wiggins went for the Giro and rode as back-up for Froome in the Tour. This would leave one of the Columbians for Spain. The team have support riders by the bucket, so no problem there.

The comment above about Contador being a problem for Wiggins in France in my view is miss placed – this is France we are talking about, not Spain.

InTheGC November 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Contador is a multiple winner of the Tour though? And this years Tour did have a weakened field. Contador would be a MASSIVE problem for Wiggins, not least because he can also TT VERY well.

Paul November 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Yes, a weakened field with reigning champion Evans and grand tour winners Nibali and Hesjedal. Not to mention former podium placers Sanchez and Menchov. The only important rider missing was Contador (Schleck never had a chance with the TT distances involved).

InTheGC November 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Didn’t really mean that – more how the early crash effected a lot of riders – but I still disagree, Evans would have been a challenge but not Nibs – I don’t think he will ever win another GT, he tried a few little moves on descents but other than that was just content to sit in the wheel, as was everybody else, too much looking around and not attacking. Thats the difference between them and riders like Contador and Schleck who would have made things much harder, throwing in attacks and Contador being able to hold his onw in the TT.

Why is it people get so upset whenever anybody says a bad word about the 2012 Tour or Wiggins? People far to protective and letting blind patriotism get in the way of logic.

InTheGC November 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

And by the way thats not a reflection on Wiggins – he could only race the route put in front of him against the riders that turned up. He is just as deserving a winner of the Tour de France as anyone else. I’m merely stating the conditions of the race and the facts are that 2012 was a course overwhelmingly suited to Wiggins attributes, it was missing several key attacking riders, some other favourites suffered in an early crash. It WAS a weakened field and an exceptional route.

The Inner Ring November 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Quite, Wiggins won the Tour de France. It wasn’t by some stroke of luck, just that circumstances in 2012 were ideal for him. In percentage terms the same scenarios are unlikely to be so ideal, the 2013 route already looks harder with reduced time trialling.

Still, having said if the Giro is his goal, there might be a 55km time trial but there’s a lot of tough climbing with infamously irregular slopes.

HodH November 3, 2012 at 1:59 am

I remember saying the same thing just after the tour finished: The course may have suited his skill set perfectly, but he’d already won before the last TT, he just gained more time on his opponents (and teammate) and extended his lead even further. And even if the times from the first TT were taken away he’d still have been the GC leader in Paris.

Of course this could have changed the race and would have meant he’d only have been seconds ahead and Nibali et al. might have had more confidence that they could get those back etc. etc.

The lack of mtfs and Contador obviously made winning easier for him, but basically Wiggins didn’t need all those TT kilometres at all.

Paul November 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

You’re jumping to conclusions here, based on scanty evidence about what anyone’s motives are. The fact is that Wiggins would have won the Tour even without the time trials. Now, that was mainly due to the time that Froome lost with a flat on an early stage, but no-one else threatened him. There’s a myth that Wiggins is vulnerable on the climbs. I’m not seeing it. Sure, some punchier riders can open a gap, but he tends to reel them back in. I think it will be a shame if he does not compete head to head with Contador and Schleck next year, even though I do like the idea of him riding the Giro in many ways.

The Inner Ring November 2, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Yes, that’s not a hunch but a stated objective of the team.

Rooto November 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Just a thought: is Froome in contract negotiations? Is Wiggins laying

Rooto November 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Apologies, pressed the wrong button…

Anyway, is Wiggins laying a false trail to help the team keep hold of Froome’s services? It doesn’t have to be untrue, but the timing could potentially be helpful.

Tovarishch November 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Froome is contracted until 2014

Barry November 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I can’t stop thinking of Paddington bear everytime I see that jacket.

Would like to see him in the Giro. Is the Mortirolo on the agenda this year?

Oliver November 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Paddington bear! Now that’s funny. I guess he forgot his hat….

Though I would say that on that picture Wiggo does a perfect job of illustrating the original meaning of the word ponce.

Vera November 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Another possibility is that Wiggins can start the Tour in service of Froome, but Froome could crash out or not be in form. Nothing is a given–one of the reasons I love pro cycling so.

By the way, I love Wiggo’s mod blue coat. It suits him.

benDE November 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm

The prospect is so intriguing….
For a rider with great odds to win to skip the tour is like a 16 year old to skip the advances of the fast girl next door. Huge respect if he sticks to it but oh, so, hard.

I think it could really set him apart from, ahem, some others in their single drive to dominate to the tour and endear him to many.

steppings November 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I had read somewhere that Bradley wishes to win each of the 3 big Tours. Good on him for going for the Giro next year. There are other races on the calender other than the TdF.

dr November 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm

The answer is simple: Mr. Wiggins is scared because this year he will have real competitors against him in Le Tour de France.

Salsiccia November 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Unlike 2012, when no-one else wanted to win and so he won by default, of course…

Eduardo November 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm

It is not a question of wanting to win, it is a question of having the ability / preparation / permission to win. Froome may have had the desire and the ability, but not the permission. Nibali lacked the ability. Evans lacked the preparation. etc..
Contadoper will not be so easily rolled. If he “prepares” himself (wink) as in the past, Wiggo will not win.

Salsiccia November 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Agreed. My point is that he beat some damn good riders to win this year’s Tour. It’s not like he just had to turn up to win.

Of course, the Tour would have been different if Contador had been there, but there’s no certainty the result would have been different.

jack November 2, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Eduardo -Contadoper? What are you, a child?

Bickus November 3, 2012 at 3:58 am

What are you, naieve?

Rocket November 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Think you hit the nail right on the head. Skipping the 100th anniversary of the TdF for the Giro? Looks to me like Wiggo is afraid to lose.

Kieran November 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I doubt if ‘scared’ comes into it, possibly sky have assessed the situation and realised that this year the odds are not so good for him and that Froome may be better suited for a go at the title. They are grown men and this is a professional sport, not children in a playground after all.

Arun November 3, 2012 at 3:48 am

+1 to that!!!

Anonymous November 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I believe Sky have said that Froome will lead the tour and Wiggins will go for the Giro. Wiggins is just trying to put some positive spin on this, saying that he wants the Giro bla bla bla…

Bill Ward November 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

For those outside cycling the Tour de France is often seen as the only race and is perhaps rightly painted as the pinnacle of achievement, the World Cup, and so if a rider doesn’t strive to win it as many times as possible during their era they are ignored in lists of ‘Greats’ by those without a broader knowledge of cycling’s other monuments and GTs.. Possibly, to his credit, Wiggins wishes to decorate his palmares with the races that matter to him such as the Giro. I know from interviews he has a soft spot for Classics racing too, I wouldn’t be surprised if just competing in those brings him great satisfaction. His Tour career can either continue as it is (win again) or it can drop off with a finish in the pack, there’s not the same incentive for glory and achievement..

Ablindeye November 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Many reasons but also this way Sky get to keep the long term ‘British’ talent in Froome. After last years loyalty (?) it will keep him happy and on Sky’s books after 2014. Don’t think that would be the case if he were riding in support again and Wiggins only has a few years left at the top.

bigwagon November 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Wiggins looks like Willy Wonka.

Soab November 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I hope he does the Giro. I’d like to see that become a more prominent race.

I would argue the contention that Wiggo has raised the profile of Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné. What were his palmare’s before those wins. 4th in the TdF and 3rd in the Vuelta and gold medals? Nice but not amazing. Maybe you were just suggesting a higher profile in the UK. Then, yes.

Matt Carey November 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Wiggins has said that after this year, with all he has won, how could he push himself to the limit again. He said he needs to try different challenges, and going to the Giro for the win would do that.

He is on record as saying he sees the Giro and Paris-Roubaix as historically important and something he wants on his palmares. He also mentioned an inkling to go for the Worlds when in Florence…

Colbagger November 9, 2012 at 12:54 am

From everything I’ve seen this is absolutely credible. Like many, I thought the focus of he who shall not be named on the TdF was driven entirely by money; after all what’s the point of winning races not on TV in the USA? It’ s obvious that Wiggo has different motivation and no intention of targeting that one race. For me its fantastic to see a rider willing and able to take on challenges throughout the year and there’s no way anyone can convince me that going for a Giro win is any kind of easy option.

Roll on the return of the days when winning classics and Tours were not considered mutually exclusive: for example, how would Wiggo’s smooth style suit the Hell of the North? I’d love to know!

STB November 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm

There is also the psychology and motivation for Wiggins. He put a massive amount into training for the 2012 TdF and Olympics. Now that he is a Tour winner I am not sure he is motivated to go back and attempt a 2nd win. Bradley has an eye on the history books and would like some other classics such as Paris-Roubaix and the Giro on his palmares. A fresh challenge.

Also SKY has Froome who looks more than capable at challenging for the podium in the Tour. And as mentioned SKY has a big interest in Italy (their team website is available in English or Italian) so the sponsors will certainly be happy to see Bradley go for the Giro.

A lot will depend on how Wiggins and Froome get through the winter. Can Bradley prepare again to the same standards as 2011 and 2012? Intensive weeks on Tenerife, many weeks in the altitude tent, plus the diet and weight control needed to climb well.

Personally I expect Bradley to target the Giro, maybe ride the Tour as support to Froome, and then maybe target the Worlds, Road Race and/or TT. I am sure he would like a World Champion jersey as well.

Should be a great year 2013.

Anonymous November 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Wow that would be seriously impressive if Wiggins were able to win PR.

mpd November 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I don’t think anything is a given next season for team Sky, They will miss the experience and leadership of Sean Yates as well as De Jongh and Julich ,They all need replacing from a list of ? , In all sports behind a good team is a good manager , I think this was seen at this years Tour .

Chris Walker November 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Surely it would make more sense if Wiggins was in Le Tour, simply because a) he brings publicity, especially for the Brits b) he’s Froome’s backup. If Froome’s challenge falters, Wiggins can take up the Team Sky cudgels. Not being there is surely unthinkable (unless injured or sick, of course).

Zalacain November 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

French TV viewing figures were way down this year due in part to the Sky domination of the race. If the French lose interest it would need more than an International TV audience for the race to continue to attract the Towns and Villages that pour so much into it. It’s all the people in their camper vans, hotels, and chamres d’hotes that makes it worthwhile for them. If it becomes just another TV show it is doomed, only exciting riders can save it.

Colbagger November 9, 2012 at 12:59 am

Possibly true for this year but I am more optimistic. The French riders results suffered disproportionately in the EPO era, possibly due to the criminal penalties they faced that riders based in other countries could largely circumvent. That means that the improving results we have seen from La Republique are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg and that interest in domestic riders will increase and stimulate TV audiences.

Steve November 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Personally I think Brad, Chris AND Sky can all do what the hell they like. Why should TdF be more important than anything else in their eyes. It’s a TEAM sport (except ITT) So Sky can and indeed should go with the person/team they think will stand the best chance of them getting GC (or Green/KoM) depending on what their priority is.

Salsiccia November 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm

That pretty much sums up Sky under Brailsford’s approach. Team first, sentiment nowhere (and correctly IMO).

Ronan November 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm

It would be great for the Giro as the coverage in the UK would sky rocket and they could/should piggy back this and maybe look at a grand depart there in the future (there are rumours of Dublin in 2014).

I think Wiggins, like Cav, is aware of his place in history, and the Giro is his best bet in 2013 of becoming a multiple GT winner.

Having said that, it’s far from a foregone conclusion, but who will be his main competitors? Pelizotti? Kreuziger? Hesjedal?

Salsiccia November 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Your final paragraph highlights a point a lot of people are missing – saying he’s not going to the Tour because he’s afraid to lose ignores the fact that he is only one of a number of riders who can win the Giro in 2013. He can easily lose the Giro too.

Ronan November 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Yes, I agree. It’s not like he can just turn up and win the thing. A lot depends on the kind of squad Sky would send too, with the Tour in the back of their mind.

David November 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Wiggins has said that he wants to win the Giro and Paris Roubaix. After stating those goals in an interview at the Tour route announcement a few people at work were asking me about those races. So, just him naming both has increased interest, even if only in the UK.

Wiggins clearly had to stick to a pretty intensive routine to achieve his 2012 goal, with long spells away from home training, so by targetting a race in May (Giro) or maybe Paris-Roubaix in 2014, he is cutting the time he has to live like a monk. Was it Jurgen Van Den Broeck who said he couldn’t live/train constantly the way Wiggins does (and not have a life)? Anyway, whoever it was, maybe Wiggins has decided he can’t do the same again too, certainly not two years in a row?

chris November 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

This logic sounds right to me.

Doubter November 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Whoa, we must be overrun with Brits today, some of whom must train or live with the guy, knowing as much as they do about him. Now King Wiggo is going to win Paris-Roubaix?
I’m taking money on that action. Who’s in?

And the last winner of both the TdF and PR? Not a normal feat.

thesimplepass November 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm

is this the best cycling website or what? A casual cycling fan and a daily reader…great job inrng! And thank you!

Jbenjamint November 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Could it be as simple as Wiggins just didn’t enjoy winning the Tour that much? He clearly had pretty mixed feelings about the press attention and was even less enthusiastic about the reaction his team’s riding style provoked from the twittersphere. Why go through that again when he can, relatively speaking, have a more relaxing time at the Giro? I’m not convinced he has the (sociopathic?) personality of a multiple Tour winner.

Curious George November 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Not a single comment on Wiggin’s hair ???? Ahh..way too serious for a Friday afternoon.

My theory is Cav got him drunk the night before “flowbee” his hair, stole all his clothes and left him that Go-Go Gadget coat.

That is what you get for making the world champ feeling like a “back-up” rider.

Keep calm and Zab on…

Luke November 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm

He should skip whoevers giving him fashion advice , thats for sure.

Nothing ild like more in sport next year than to see Wiggo go back to back but if he wants to do the Giro so be it , the drugged up Spaniards will be to much to overcome at next years Tour.

HodH November 3, 2012 at 2:27 am

It’s not really fair to accuse anyone of doping next year, and by just by naming a nationality of the alleged future cheaters your comment comes across as blind nationalism at best and casual racism at worst.

Sam November 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I think Luke opinion re. spaniards is held by a number of people.

AK November 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Let’s see. Froome was second last year. He was obviously holding back on some of the climbs, only lost time to Wiggins in the TT’s. This year there is more climbing and less TTing. Makes no sense for Sky to let Wiggins try and win the Tour then. So why not let him try and win the Giro?
Of course he should still go to the tour. They can always try for another 1-2.

Alex Simmons November 2, 2012 at 9:25 pm

We’ll also have to see what’s left of the Sky train if the current internal processes result in more departures. I suspect there won’t be much change, but who knows?

Simma November 2, 2012 at 10:04 pm

i don’t see why he should ride the 2013 tour. he wouldn’t of even won the 2012 one if not for contractual obligations… wiggo has made management put froome to work in 2 tours and made him lose them both, he should be a double GT winner and people should never forget this =/ how it’s overlooked and wiggo is the “darling” of our crappy media is disgusting imo

Ryan November 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

My opinion is, at least from Wiggo’s perspective, that I would ride & focus on trying to prevail in the Giro. Holding both the Giro & Tour belts at the same time, even for only a few months, is something very few have done. Winning both inside of a 9-mth span puts you in a different class amongst current & retired pros, in cycling history. If its good for them & his bosses support it, then bully for them both. A cyclist of his caliber & affinity for cycling history, would want this. Maybe try for the Trifecta in the Vuelta next year in lieu of the Tour? Certainly, try in the next couple of editions. I think, & I would if I were he, that winning two, or even all three GTs, makes you almost an immortal. How many riders can claim those results on their palmares?

Hg November 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm

A small comment, to ensure that this excellent blog correctly reflectts history. Eddy Merckx joined the Molteni team in 1971. He nearly lost the Tour that year against Ocana (who eliminated himself with a crash in the descent of the Col de Mente). 1972 saw a rematch between both protagonists and to the horror of the French organisers (Goddet was still in command) Ocana was thoroughly trashed by the Cannibal. That brought Merckx to four consecutive Tour victories (and in each of these Tours he won as many stages as Cavendish). Boring. The French public and the organisers made it clear that they had seen enough of him and there were even rumours that Merckx was paid not to show up in 1973. That year he won the Vuelta (thoroughly trashing Ocana, who would go on to win the Tour that year in Merckx’ absence) and the Giro (wearing the Maglia rosa from the first until the last stage). Merckx was back in 1974, winning his fifth Tour plus eight stages.

jack November 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Great piece as always.

A couple of thoughts.
1. Wiggo is a lover of cycling history and the Giro carries a huge panache. The Tour does too but it is in the bag already and the Giro is special no matter how you look at it. If he wins the Giro he will try the Vuelta next year.
2. Sky wants to be known for winning Grand Tours. If Wiggo wins the Giro, Froome can go at the Tour with full force. Win-win. Remember that this Giro does not suit Wiggo but it suits Froome.
3. Wiggo is mad at the Tour, ASO, and anyone associated with letting Lance win seven Tours while doping. He won this year yes, but he hated it. He has said so himself and he was upset at all the questions about his team riding clean this year. He does not forget. He is sticking it to ASO and their UCI friends by skipping the centennial Tour.

Roman Green November 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

If Wiggins thought he could win in 2013 nothing would stop him trying for it – he can’t and he only won in 2012 because the course was gift-wrapped and handed to him

Doubter November 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Nice. If Wiggie thinks he is bigger than the TdF, he can keep on wearing his schoolboy’s coat.

You people are too much……….

choke November 3, 2012 at 3:44 am

Wiggins won the Tour last year because it was an almost perfect course for him. It was pretty much a given even before the course was released that this year’s Tour wouldn’t be and IMO that’s why he’s publicly stated that he may ride in support of Froome. If he’s the main contender on the team he loses face when he can’t live up to expectations.
I don’t see him winning the Giro this year either. The Giro itself, and the climbs in particular, are almost always tougher than the Tour. While it does have more TT kms than usual it’s still not enough to make up for those steep climbs.

dagoose November 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

Would there be any pressure/incentives from Pinarello to win the Giro? Probably to romantic an idea I suppose.

MikeB November 3, 2012 at 10:19 am

Maybe Brad also wants to spread his clothing brand via Fred Perry to Italy and subsequently Spain as he looks to when he retires. Recent Guardian article speaks to his low boredom threshold and you get the impression he is bored unless presented with new challenges, pretty much does what he wants

Tripod Ape November 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Looking beyond 2013, I have it from a good source that Wiggins’ plan is to ride two more years on the road and then work to get himself into shape for a track comeback at the 2016 Rio Olympics. His awareness of cycling history is matched by his sense of his place in Olympic history. Success in Rio would further cement him in the record books having won medals in every games since Sydney in 2000.

Zac November 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm

First and foremost, I don’t think Wiggins would even be able to compete in the 2013 tour. Last year’s tour was clearly made specifically for Wiggins to win with so much time trialling and so little climbing. The 2013 tour will be dominated by the likes of Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador, Joaqium Rodriguez (if he comes), and other pure climbers who would be easily able to drop Wiggins in the high mountains.

That being said, it is a much better decision for Wiggins, though a huge cop out as well, to not focus on the tour and instead put his effort into the Giro. The Giro has set up a course that Wiggins could actually compete on and could offer an interesting show down between Ryder Hesjedal, Vincenzo Nibali, and Wiggins. Wiggins would gain time in the TT’s but would be up against it on the climbs in my opinion. And if Wiggins does put his effort into winning the Giro, he can then say that he doesn’t have the energy to go for the win at the tour as well and therefore have an excuse for being unable to climb with the real climbers. So this would really benefit Wiggins

And lastly, yes this would hugely benefit the tour. The 2012 tour was the worst, most boring tour I have seen in the last decade and probably farther than that. The tour made a huge mistake and, based on the course, looks like it took a bribe to set up a course that Wiggins would for sure win. Everyone knew what would happen and when both Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador were ruled out, all the flair was lost. A strong Contador and Schelck (with a strong team) could have caused problems for Wiggins and made it more interesting but, alas, this was not to be. This tour looks set to be a much more interesting tour. Especially if BMC make the right decision and put their support behind Van Garderen instead of Evans. Van Garderen, Schelck, Contador, Rodriguez, Jurgen Van den Broek, Chris Froome, Jakob Fuglsang, Pierre Rolland, and Sammy Sanchez all going for it would be very exciting

Bundle November 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

Sánchez has said he wants to copy Rodríguez’s 2012 calendar in 2013. One more for the Giro.

South Park's take on Lance November 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm

As always, off topic,
you might enjoy this hilarious South Park episode based on the Lance Armstrong crisis:
http://t.co/EKsvg4oB

(it’s a canadian link, so it might not work elsewhere in the world. So for those interested its the South Park episode 1613, “A Scause for Applause”)

Enjoy!

Oliver November 4, 2012 at 3:19 am

Excellent, thanks. The blood bear should really watch that one!

Larry T. November 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Wiggo’s not very exciting to watch, but I like his idea of trying to win all three Grand Tours during his career. Much more interesting than basing his whole season on one race in July every year, as far too many others do. Could make for a great Giro d’Italia if Nibali’s there trying to win as well.

Bundle November 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

1) One Tour de France + one Giro d’Italia is worth more than 2 TdF: the races are too different, and being able to win in such different scenarios has the plus of “variety”. Charly Gaul has a better palmarès than Bernard Thévenet.
2) The Giro is more “cool” and “mod-like”, more befitting to the one rider you can more easily imagine riding a Lambretta in a narrow Milanese suit, than as a cyclist.
3) The Giro should allow him to bid for the Vuelta too, in perfect conditions: the guy is 32, and being able to complete the 3 biggie wins is the most he can aspire to in stage-racing at this point.

Doubter November 5, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Not quite. 2 TdF > any two other races you can name.
You guys are letting your man-love get in the way of objectivity.

diamondjim November 5, 2012 at 5:01 am

Wiggo’s just missing a label:
“Please look after this Tour winner. Thank you.”

Abdu November 5, 2012 at 5:31 am

Wiggo gets a double thumbs up from me, how good is it to see someone other than the robotic boring sports ‘stars’ everywhere else?! Much as it galled me to see two Aussies (one a real GC winning chance in the future) lay down themselves for Wiggo to roll over the top, all credit to Wiggo. On and off the bike he delivers. No wonder the Poms love him so much.
Jealous, me?

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