Bradley Wiggins reclaimed his British national time trial title in Newport with a masterful performance on a tricky circuit in difficult conditions, relegating Geraint Thomas to second and defending champion Alex Dowsett to third. Is Brad back?
Bradley Wiggins, who has watched his former Team Sky team-mate Alex Dowsett claim the previous three time trial championships, re-established himself as Britain’s best tester with a hugely impressive ride in very difficult conditions, bumping Movistar man Dowsett down to third while local lad Geraint Thomas took silver.
Wiggins, who started two minutes in front of Dowsett, led at every time check and on the opening lap he was already more than a minute up on Dowsett and over 30 seconds ahead of Thomas. Not even the worsening conditions – colder and wetter – could halt Wiggins’ progress. In the end, the only debate was whether or not Luke Rowe would hold on to third, making it an all-Sky podium. It was a hell of a showing.
After the podium Champagne had been sprayed, Wiggins faced a media scrum and made it clear that he wouldn’t be riding the Tour de France and wasn’t waiting on any last minute call-ups.
“I’d have liked to have been there. It came down that there was a cut-off point, and having gone back to train on the track early, I didn’t have the preparation for the Tour. It’s disappointing on an personal level, but I think from a team point of view it’s probably the strongest team possible as it stands today.”
So there were no tantrums, no hint of bitterness and no room for public score settling, Wiggins, it would appear, has made peace with the team’s decision in leaving him out of the Tour line up that will assemble in Leeds in less than a week’s time.
“The team they’re sending is an incredible team. They’ve got the defending champion who has got to be the favourite to win it, they’ve got the likes of Geraint Thomas who could take the British road title on Sunday and take the jersey to the Tour. I think the team that’s going, you couldn’t fault it. With my crash in Switzerland, I was probably lacking preparation, and there were probably eight better guys in front of me.”
The mood of the other two riders on the podium could hardly have been further apart. Thomas had been cheered to the heavens by the locals and, in losing to Wiggins (but beating Dowsett) there was confirmation that he was in form and making progress.
“There’s no shame in coming second behind Brad, none at all,” before he turned his thoughts to Sunday’s road race. “I hear he’s (Wiggins) tipped me as favourite for Sunday, typical, he loves piling the pressure on. Obviously the main thing is that the team wins and I’d love it to be me. As far as rivals go for Sunday I’d say there’s Rowe, Kennaugh…”, laughed Thomas, reeling off the names of his Sky team-mates.
Dowsett, on the other hand, was the very definition of ‘gutted.’ “When I came through at the end of the first lap and heard I was a minute down on Brad, I knew it was a big ask. The fact that my second lap was better than my first and I only lost a minute and a half is like a bonus, I’m happy just to be on the podium.”
The day belonged to Wiggins, the race belonged to Sky and, even if Wiggins is no longer the future of that particular team, he demonstrated once again that he is a formidable racer and far from washed up and pissed off.
British Time Trial Championships, men’s race, Newport
1. Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) 40.8km in 53-06
2. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) at 1-08
3. Alex Dowsett (Movistar) at 1-21
4. Luke Rowe (Team Sky) at 2-59
5. James McLaughlin (Guidon Chalettois) at 3-20
6. Matt Bottrill (www.drag2zero.com) at 4-07
7. Mark Christian (Raleigh) at 4-16
8. Russell Hampton (Athlon Sport-Cloud9Telecom) at 5-19
9. Joe Perrett (Raleigh) at 5-33
10. Gruff Lewis (Pedal Heaven-Colbornes) at 6-15