Leader Wiggins hits out
CYCLING:THE PHRASE “the road to Paris is long” is one of the oldest cliches in the Tour de France lexicon, but it will be especially apposite for the Tour leader Bradley Wiggins from now on.
He got a taste of what is in store for him yesterday on his first day in the yellow jersey, when one of the most animated stages in recent years ended with Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, Jurgen Van Den Broeck of Belgium and the defending Tour champion, Cadel Evans, testing his legs into the finish. Then, afterwards, he received his first proddings from the media.
Van Den Broeck and his faithful sidekick Jelle Vanendert will be constant threats in the mountains now, and they accelerated at the top of the last climb of the day, the short, steep and aptly named Col de la Croix, asking questions of the lead group, which was then whittled down to just Wiggins, Chris Froome, Van Den Broeck, Nibali and Evans.
It was the Italian who attacked twice on the descent – perhaps because the general perception is that going downhill is Wiggins’ weak point – but the Englishman responded, and he had the legs in the final kilometres to answer a late attack from the Belgian, who swept away after going round a roundabout on the opposite side from the rest of the group, with Evans, briefly, joining him.
“I’m not surprised by anything at the Tour,” said Wiggins. “I expect anything, never underestimate anything, and never predict anything. It’s difficult to say when you can ever relax.”
There are other tests of a Tour leader, however. This became evident when a journalist asked Wiggins for his opinion on comparisons being made on the internet between Wiggins’ Sky team and Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team, which has been linked to a current investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
The journalist was given short shrift. “I say they’re just f***king w*****s. I cannot be doing with people like that,” said Wiggins.
“It justifies their own boneidleness because they can’t ever imagine applying themselves to doing anything in their lives.
“It’s easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of shit rather than get off their arses in their own lives and apply themselves and work hard at something and achieve something. And that’s ultimately it, ” added the rider.
For Wiggins, it was probably the most stressful moment of his Tour so far, more so than the stage through the Jura over the Col de la Croix.