Bradley Wiggins (Sky) has already dealt with his share of difficulties in this year’s Giro d’Italia, which has yet to enter the high mountains. His quest for the leader’s pink jersey appears to be much more challenging than last year’s Tour de France win.

“I never expected it to be as straightforward as the Tour last year,” Wiggins told a couple of journalists, including Cycling Weekly. “It’s been a tough challenge, be we knew it’d be that way.”

Ahead of the first high-mountain stage tomorrow to Altopiano del Montasio, Wiggins sits fourth overall at 1-16 minutes from Italy’s best stage racer, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

Disappointments

Most observers expected more when the race pushed off from the south in Naples. Wiggins’ team dominated the team time trial in Ischia and gained time: 14″ to Nibali, 22″ to Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), 25″ to Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and 28″ to Robert Gesink (Blanco).

Those gains slipped away when the race rolled on. Hesjedal and Evans sneaked away for bonus second in Marina di Ascea and Wiggins slipped back 17 seconds due to inattention on the Serra San Bruno climb.

The biggest disappointments were yet to come.

Like many others, Wiggins crashed on the wet Abruzzese roads leading to Pescara. His bike handling skills, however, compounded the problem. Before he hit the deck, he was losing ground to his rivals.

“I drifted a little bit too far back on the second last climb – there was a downhill section in the middle of the climb – I just wasn’t taking the risks,” Wiggins said.

“I kind of was willing to move up a bit on the climbs and then we came down the descent into he last climb and there were a few crashes ahead of me which slowed me down. So I was already off the back of the group – and then in doing that, trying to chase harder, [I] crashed anyway. [Laughs - ed.]“

Wiggins punctured in the time trial the next day, which not only prevented him from gaining GC time but also stopped him from topping Alex Dowsett (Movistar) for the stage win. He called it a ‘disappointment’.

“But then after when we broke it all down and [had] seen the numbers I was producing like that, I was physically better than I’ve ever been, which also makes it a bit more disappointing.”

The problems from Pescara to central Italy in Florence, highlighted a potential Wiggins’ potential downfall.

“Let’s be honest,” he added, “I descended like a bit of a girl really after the crash… Not to disrespect girls, I have one at home. But that’s life and we have to push on and deal with the disappointments.”

Pushing on

Nibali, who placed third in the Tour last year, time trialled his way into the pink jersey on Saturday. He leads Evans by 29″, Gesink by 1-15 minutes, Wiggins by 1-16, Scarponi by 1-24. Defending champion, Hesjedal sits at 3-11.

Home favourite, Nibali has been riding aggressively since the start. He pushed the pace on the Pescara and yesterday’s stage, both times seeing Wiggins lose touch on wet roads.

“He will continue to ride aggressively. I can’t see him trying to defend 30 seconds from now until Brescia,” Wiggins added.

“Cadel is the best I’ve seen him since he won the Tour. He is the danger-man in that position. He showed [in the TT] he is in good shape. I was a bit surprised about Ryder.”

Altopiano del Montasio

The climb to Altopiano del Montasio, tucked away in Italy’s northeast, could rock the entire GC order tomorrow. Enzo Cainero, the founder of Monte Zoncolan and Crostis, introduced it to the Giro organiser and helped to bring about its debut this year.

The climb rises above Sella Nevea, which already sits at 1143 metres, and continues 10.4km until 1502 metres. The road kicks up to 20 per cent right away and averages 7.8 per cent.

Wiggins previewed it last month.

“It will be one of the toughest finishes of this Giro, that’s for sure,” said Wiggins. “The race could tip upside down again.”

Giro d’Italia 2013: Previews and race info



Giro d’Italia 2013: Coverage index



Giro d’Italia 2013: British TV schedule



Giro 2013: 10 things you need to know



Giro d’Italia 2013: The Big Preview

Giro d’Italia 2013: Stage reports



Stage nine: Belkov takes solo win as Wiggins put under pressure



Stage eight: Dowsett wins as Nibali takes race lead



Stage seven: Wiggins crashes as Hansen wins



Stage six: Cavendish wins stage six of Giro



Stage five: Degenkolb avoids crash to take win



Stage four: Battaglin sprints to first Giro stage win


Stage three: Paolini takes charge



Stage two: Sky wins team time trial



Stage one: Cavendish wins opener

Giro d’Italia 2013: Photo galleries



Photos by Graham Watson



Stage nine gallery



Stage eight gallery



Stage seven gallery



Stage six gallery



Stage five gallery



Stage four gallery



Stage three gallery



Stage two gallery



Stage one gallery



Team presentation gallery




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  • Mark Evans

    History taught us to view Lance’s “giving” to charity in a very cynical view. It was merely a cloak to hide dark secrets.

    I do not think Brad’s” gift” to the Honda Wiggle team can be viewed in that manner but more as by way of recognising that whilst he is fortunate the sexist norms of this sport give him advantage, so they disadvantage females grotesquely. Those same sexist norms caused him to think it was entirely acceptable to come out with “descended like a girl” which totally goes against what he recognised with his “gift”. I think Brad can be foregiven, if he apologises.

    What we do have to recognise is that cycling rmains a sport with very serious issues in relation to how it views participation by females.

  • labrat

    Lets not get too carried away here.I don’t think that was any more offensive than when my wife accuses me of having a “man” look in the cupboard for something I cant find. I don’t take offense and wouldn’t if it was stated on television or in the papers. There are bigger things to focus on

  • Eric

    Way to encourage all those women cyclists out there!

  • adam

    I agree…. It’s like before the Olympics when ‘new comers’ to the world of cycling thought Cav winning was obvious before the race even started. Now with Wiggins in the Giro it’s as though he’s meant to win and anything else is an almighty c**k up. Well, this is a Grand Tour. This is cycling. Nothing is easy. Keep on it Wiggins!

  • Pete Barton

    It doesn’t matter how many girls you’ve got at home Bradley, the way you described your descending is disrespectful.

    Apologise, find another analogy and get on with riding your bike like you are a serious challenger for the Giro.

  • Nigel Brindley

    Good interview. It has been sad to read so many negative comments on forums and blogs about Wiggins performance. Stand by our man he’s a true Brit and the bad luck he’s had in the first week could easily befall any of the other GC riders. So have faith he will do us proud.