Should Wiggins Skip The Tour de France?

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.

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End of Season Prizes

Tom Boonen won the Flandrien prize for Belgian cyclist of the year, collecting the trophy from the Belgian Prime Minister. The annual award has been split in recent times give domestic prize and an international one, this time scooped by Bradley Wiggins.

If you want to understand how big cycling is in Belgium then note Boonen collected the award from bow-tie toting Elio di Rupo. There are not many awards dinners in the world where the head of government dishes out the prizes. Nor awards where a country’s top politician finds it worthwhile to be seen handing out the prize.

These awards are subjective but for me, often illustrate the best riders of the season better than the arithmetic of a points-based ranking system.

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Tour TV Audiences Down as British Bike Sales Rise

Tour de France Television

Ok, the headline exaggerates wildly but that’s half the point of the story below. TV audiences in France fell for the Tour de France, in part because there was no big battle for the yellow jersey throughout the race. Meanwhile Bradley Wiggins’ Tour triumph is claimed to have boosted bike sales in the UK. Are both stories true?

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The Moment The Race Was Won: The Tour de France

The Tour de France last three weeks but the build-up begins in October when the route is announced. The road to victory isn’t about the finish line, it’s the journey too and so this time there’s more than one racing winning moment.

And if you think Wiggins won because of the time trials, think twice. Strip away the time trials from the overall results and he would still have the fastest time.

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The Extraordinary Rise of Bradley Wiggins in 21 photos

Atypique. That’s the word most often used to describe Bradley Wiggins by the French media, meaning atypical, unusual and special. It’s a reference to his character, whether his London sarcasm, the fluent French or his taste for things far beyond the bubble of pro cycling. But his whole career has been unusual, making him perhaps the most unique winner of the Tour de France.

Here’s a look at his cycling career via 21 photos and a video clip.

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The Pyrenees on the Horizon

Bradley Wiggins Yellow Jersey Evans

Today’s rest day brings to mind Antonin Magne, winner of the Tour in 1931 and 1934 who said “the Tour is won by sleeping”. He didn’t mean he snoozed on his bike, instead that recovery was so important. Many riders today will have been working hard on their rest day, going for the right ride, eating correctly, stretching hard and getting a strong massage.

They’ll need it given the two giant stages in the Pyrenees. Playwright Antoine Blondin said the great cols of the Pyrenees “separate once and for all the racers from those who use a bicycle to go to the market” and more than the Alps these climbs can be traps with irregular gradients and twisty descents.

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Tour Stage 7

Chris Froome Planche des Belles Filles

As many have remarked, when Team Sky launched they stated the aim of winning the Tour de France. It seemed far-fetched but my take was that when you have a big sponsor and you launch the team then you cannot say much else.

Today this aim is now a possibility and in Sky’s management style, a big box to tick. The British squad is in a very comfortable position with both Wiggins and Froome in control and don’t forget it was the work of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Rogers and Richie Porte that shredded the peloton. It split in the approach to the final climb, it exploded on the slopes of the Planche des Belles Filles.

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Who Will Finish Third in the Tour?

Tour de France winner odds bookmakers

The odds on Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France are now so short that the some bookmakers price him as a safer pick than Lance Armstrong in 2003. Cadel Evans is a close second but as the table above from shows, everyone else is far out. Madness?

Possibly and we should note that the odds are a price and not a probability, it is likely that a lot of people have been putting a lot of money on Evans and Wiggins and this has shortened the odds. But precision apart, Wiggins and Evans are the two prime contenders. Who are the others capable of finishing on the podium?

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The Altitude Tent

Altitude tent

Altitude training has long been a fixture for endurance athletes. It has been common for riders to head for the mountains for some time. As well as familiarising themselves with the local passes and working on the pedal stroke riders are also subject to hypoxia or oxygen deprivation, triggering a set of responses in the body.

But riders need not go to the high mountains for this. It is possible to sit at home yet experience the conditions of altitude thanks to what is commonly known as an altitude tent.

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Andy Schleck Down, Bradley Wiggins Up

Andy Schleck is out of the 2012 Tour de France. The news first appeared this morning in the Luxembourg media with RTL. A press conference this afternoon confirmed this, he is has a fractured pelvis.

By contrast Bradley Wiggins has moved into the position of Tour de France race favourite, confident both in his abilities but also with a string of wins to his name this year too. The contrast couldn’t be bigger.

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