Bradley Wiggins has described his victory at Paris-Nice on Sunday as a ‘huge honour’ and has praised his Sky team-mates for assisting him in winning the prestigious French stage race.
Wiggins led the WorldTour-level race from stage two, and Team Sky were put in the difficult and often stressful position of having to defend the jersey for six days.
This they did faultlessly, keeping Wiggins near the front of the bunch to keep him safe from crashes and splits, policing break-aways and ensuring that he was in the perfect position at all times. At no time did the squad look over-stretched or panicked.
Wiggins was then left to finish things off on the final individual time trial stage on Sunday, a 9.6km test up the Col d’Eze climb from Nice. Wiggins won the stage, and sealed the overall win – becoming only the second Briton to win the race after Tom Simpson in 1967.
“I always said it was about me doing my ride, emptying it to the top which was always going to be horrible. It was a 19-minute effort and pacing wise we got it absolutely perfect,” Wiggins said of his final time trial performance.
“I’m pleased more for everyone else rather than myself after all the hard work the boys have put in this week. Ultimately it fell on my shoulders to finish the job off and I’m just made up that I was able to do that.
Wiggins had his best season yet last year, winning the Criterium du Dauphiné and placing third at the Vuelta a Espana. He missed out on contesting the Tour de France after crashing out of the race with a broken collarbone.
This year, he appears to be in top form, having won the time trial stage in the Tour of the Algarve and now a stage of Paris-Nice and the overall classification. He is aiming to contest the Tour de France this July followed by the London 2012 Olympic Games time trial. But for now, he’s reflecting on a great win and his position as one of Britain’s most successful stage racers.
“It’s massive to win this race too,” said Wiggins. “I really think about things like that but I’ve tried not to think too much about it in the last few days. To follow in Tom Simpson’s footsteps and become the second British rider to win Paris-Nice is something special.
“I’d probably say it’s one of my biggest wins – as was the Criterium du Dauphiné – and to have both those on my palmares is a huge honour.”
Wiggins’ win at Paris-Nice has now given him a career total of 18 professional victories, and he jumps ahead of Robert Millar in Cycling Weekly’s all-time list of British pro winners. He also enters the Union Cycliste Internationale’s latest WorldTour rankings in second spot behind Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.
Wiggins will next appear in the Tour of Catalonia in Spain over March 19-25, and then the Tour of Romandy in April.