Sky’s Bradley Wiggins appeared as if he had fallen out of the back of a speeding truck when he started today’s Tour de France stage. Despite the scrapes from yesterday’s crash, he is ready to confront one of this year’s most feared days; the cobblestone stage to Arenberg.
“We have to go out and do the same thing: ride aggressively,” said Wiggins. “The worst thing that could happen is that you could crash, break something and go home – this is your job, you have to do it.”
Wiggins will have the help of one-day classics star, Juan Antonio Flecha, to help get the job done. Flecha has finished three times on the podium of Paris-Roubaix, which is a good thing. Today’s stage features 13.2 kilometres of some of the worst paved roads in France, the same roads used annually in the Paris-Roubaix classic.
“Obviously, we have to attack it and we can’t sit back,” continued Wiggins. “Guys like [Thor] Hushovd and his [Cervélo] team will attack it and we don’t know what Fabian [Cancellara of Saxo Bank] will do – if he will wait or go for it. There are a few teams that will really go for it today and we have to be one of them.
“Everyone knew this was coming and we just have to try to make the most of it.”
The riders knew since the Tour de France route was revealed in October that the cobbles may affect the race outcome, but they didn’t plan on yesterday’s stage through the Ardennes to cause such a shack up.
Wiggins’ former team-mate Christian Vande Velde was involved in crashes yesterday. He had dreamt of winning the Tour de France, but his dream will be put on hold because he was unable to start today due to fractured ribs and a cut eyelid.
“That is why I think I am lucky,” added Wiggins. “I wasn’t the only one to go down, all the other GC guys went down and we were lucky to still be in the bike race.”
He recovered with the rest of the leaders and did not lose anytime in the overall classification, though, he disagreed with the parade-like pace led by former race leader Fabian Cancellara.
“I think it was just bullshit, to be honest. That’s bike racing. No one waited for me when I crashed at the Giro. If it is a dangerous time trial prologue, Fabian ain’t going to slow down and wait for everyone else.”
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Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins