Bradley Wiggins has reiterated that he will take the final week of the 2009 Tour de France day by day without letting the thought of a place on the final podium in Paris put him under pressure.
Wiggins is pragmatic to the extreme and is still a little uncomfortable in the Tour de France media spotlight but he is focused on his final goal, whatever it might turn out to be, like a mountaineer climbing Everest.
“I’m going to forget about everything everyone is saying to me and just do what I’ve been doing up to now,” Wiggins said late on Monday in his team hotel.
“I don’t think too far ahead. You don’t look at a summit of mountain when you’re climbing it. You set up base camps at different points on the way up, otherwise the enormity of what you’re taking on gets to you and I think that’s why people end up cracking.”
“It’s a small step, you know. Tomorrow’s another day in the Tour de France. Everything can be lost in one stage, so we’ll concentrate on tomorrow and then on the next day and the next day. I’ve been saying that since Monaco and everyone is getting sick and tired of me saying that. Everyone wants me to say what they want to hear but I’m trying to keep it all in perspective.”
“I’ve come this far with my team and the people around me. We’re just going to stick together, take it day by day and enjoy it when we get to Paris, whatever comes. Up to now we’ve done a pretty good job. We’ve just got keep doing what were doing.”
Paris is a long way off…
Wiggins is currently third overall, 1-46 behind Contador and just nine seconds behind Armstrong. If he holds third place, it would be the best Tour performance ever by a British rider, bettering Robert Millar’s fourth place in 1984. But Wiggins is not thinking of that.
“I’m not stupid enough to think I can beat Contador,” he said.
Wiggins (left) sits next to Garmin team-mate Christian Vande Velde
“He’s proved by far that he’s the best bike rider in this race. You never know how hard to tighten something before it breaks and I don’t want to over-tighten something at this stage.”
“I’ll get through tomorrow, then the next day, then the time trial, then Mont Ventoux. Paris is a long way off and I’m trying to keep it in perspective and not get too excited. The race is no way done yet, by far. I’m not thinking about statistics or that kind of stuff.”
Verbier performance ‘seems like a blur’
Wiggins has even put his excellent ride to Verbier behind him. He is focused on the next stage and his possible result in Paris.
“There was a buzz last night but it all seems like a blur, like the Olympic pursuit finals. I’m just thinking ahead. You can’t dwell too much on these things. They kind of happen, the Tour de France goes on,” he said.
“If you sit back and start resting on your laurels, your mistakes or success you’ve had, you forget about what’s ahead. This race is far from over. My goal ultimately is Paris and the best result I can achieve there. I don’t want to start taking my foot off the gas now and thinking it’s been a great Tour. I want to try and seize the moment because I may never be in this position again.”
“I think as an individual we all handle situations differently. The sign of a good athlete is who handles it better. A lot of the Tour de France is your head and when you get to the third week, everyone is so sick of riding a bike that you have to be slightly more positive.
“A lot of it is the people around you. We haven’t stopped laughing for the last three weeks. That’s a special thing in this team. We don’t half have a laugh. And that helps us get through it. If this race was six weeks long, we’d still be laughing in three weeks’ time. That’s something we’ve built over the winter and I think that’s unique and something a lot of other teams don’t have.”
Final time trial showdown
Before speaking to the media, Wiggins and team mates Christian Vande Velde, David Millar and Dave Zabriskie flew by helicopter to study the Annecy time trial course. Wiggins liked it and talked up his chance of gaining time on his rivals.
“It’s a fast time trial. It’s great for me. It’s mainly flat but the climb is pretty hard towards the end. It’s certainly one of the easier third week time trials I’ve done. I really like it. I’ve no idea of what time gaps will emerge. Everyone will come out of the next two days in different states of fatigue and it’s difficult to say.”
Before the time trial, Wiggins expects attacks from the Schleck brothers as they try and knock him and Lance Armstrong off the podium. He also expects Contador to do something.
“For sure they’ll attack, attacking for attacking’s sake, whether it’s Contador or us. The race is not over and everyone wants to finish as high as possible. There’s a long way to go. Andy is a racer and so is Frank. They’ll race right to Paris and Bjarne [Riis - Saxo Bank manager] is not going to sit back ether. They were trying to win the bike race on Verbier and they’ll keep doing that to the last day.”
And rest assured, so will Wiggins.
Stage 15: Contador wins in Verbier as Tour explodes into life
Stage 14: Ivanov wins as Nocentini clings onto yellow
Stage 13: Haussler braves rain for victory in Colmar
Stage 12: Sorensen wins in Vittel as Cavendish goes for green
Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record
Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win
Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire
stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out
Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance
Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs
Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage
Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second
Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage
Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador
Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint
Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial
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