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Sky look vulnerable as Wiggins loses time

Robert Millar
May 11, 2013, 08:40,
May 11, 2013, 10:35
Giro d'Italia

Impressed with Cadel Evans, Cavendish and Intxausti

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) before the start of the stage

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) before the start of the stage

  • Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) before the start of the stage
  • Vicenzo Nibali (Astana)
  • Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in action during stage 6
  • Cadel Evans (BMC)  on a late corner

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All change at the Giro d'Italia. Sky's Plan A has hit the skids, sorry couldn't resist but on the same fateful roads as Froome got done over at Tirreno Bradley Wiggins does the same and loses skin, time and all faith in his wet weather skills.

The confidence part of descending in the rain is the biggest concern because once you stop believing you'll make the corner the whole thing goes to pot. I was never that bothered about racing downhill in the wet as it meant slower speeds and more sliding if I did fall off but some guys don't like it at all. Who knows what Wiggins was feeling but he wasn't comfortable as soon as it rained and it could just be down to something like having the wrong tyre pressures for the conditions.

If not that it might have been he had some dodgy rims, grabby brake blocks, his weight distribution on the bike or even an aspect of frame geometry which upset him. It could be one of those or it could be a combination of them or it might just be because he got cold. One thing is for sure Nibali and Co will be doing a rain dance before the time trial because if it's soaking for the first crucial rendezvous instead of looking at a loss of two seconds per kilometre they'll be reckoning on a lot less.

This Giro hasn't been as smooth a ride for Sky and Brad as last year's Tour was, not by a long shot .

Stuck behind the big crash on the Thursday was the second bit of bad luck, after losing his team time trial benefit on the first of the uphill finishes. Before falling off he was already starting the TT before his rivals but now even if he does a great ride over the 55km the time gaps will be less convincing than they would have been and the Sky machine will be much more vulnerable to attacks.

They were already under a bit of media pressure over the TdF leadership and their Colombians who might or might not be leaving rumours. They thought they had dealt with those niggles effectively but the assembled press will have a whole new set of possibilities to ruminate over now that Wiggins has slid down the road and out of the top ten .

Such as, will the climbers have to wait for their team leader if he has another bad day, will they be given free reign, and which one to chose?

If Uran is leaving will they insist on him riding for Henao and not getting more points to take to another team. And if Wiggins' injuries are bad will he stop? What happens then for FroomeDog and the Tour? With so much speculation coming their way and so many stories to ward off Dave Brailsford might be thinking about how one of the people he admires Manchester Utd supremo Sir Alex Ferguson handled the situation between his stars. With two big egos to satisfy at Sky you have to ask will one of them be doing a Ronaldo and move to Spain.

It hasn't exactly done Mark Cavendish any harm to have moved on, two wins so far and despite the other sprinters lining up on his wheel it doesn't seem to make any difference to the outcome. That's classy, as was remembering Wouter Weylands on the podium.

Despite the long time trial I wouldn't write off Intxausti just yet, he's a good bike rider and being race leader changes your motivation. As much as it suited the favourites teams to see Paolini and Katusha try to control the race for most of the first week if the Basque rider kept the pink jersey at Movistar for the middle of the race, that would help them out greatly.

Of the other big names I've been impressed with Cadel Evans so far. He's been riding intelligently, not taking needless wind and positioning himself well. Hesjedal has calmed down and Nibali has looked in control but everything becomes clearer on Saturday night.

I still expect Bradley Wiggins to win the TT but with him losing time unexpectedly the GC has opened up and there'll be more riders and teams thinking they can get something from this Giro other than a kicking. Everyone has seen the chinks in the Sky armour and guys like Scarponi who dont mind a bit of rough weather wont be afraid to take them on once the big mountains arrive.

The Giro has proven to be brutally selective in the past and this edition looks like it'll be no exception.

Cycle Canaria More than 1 year ago
Wiggie was always fragile as befitting a specialist rider who needs everything to be on his side to win. Most of the other riders can cope with adversity but not the Black Prince. Cadel looks to be getting happier with his form and he may throw his caution to the wind if he goes up GC or stays level to yesterday after today.Ryder too may be seriously thinking of the upper steps of the podium.
redwizard6 More than 1 year ago
"Ryder too may be seriously thinking of the upper steps of the podium." Seriously?? He came in with, and still does have, complete confidence he can defend his title. He is on really good form, knows how to win and has the stones to attack when necessary to do so. I think you are short changing the man.
FrogMan More than 1 year ago
yes, your right sir... 20 minutes today!!!
Graham Martin More than 1 year ago
Starting to just slightly wonder if we're looking at another Tour '11 - everyone keeps looking at Nibali and Wiggins, meanwhile Cadel Evans, who's 'clearly too old to win' just happens to have, er, oh look, gone and won it. Carrying that analogy to its logical conclusion, I guess that makes Wiggins the new Andy Moaning Schleck, and Nibali the new Contador.
WilGirod'Italia More than 1 year ago
RM great comments as usual - I think he's feeding the anti-Sky press (or, I would say, the press interested in a more open and exciting Giro) with some good ideas there, but hey he's got Ryder up there... Not sure what's the weather like right now with 3 hours or so to Wiggo's start, but I notice weather forecast gives rain in the afternoon. If Wiggins gets through the twisty first part into Pesaro on dry tarmac, and then it starts raining in the following hour, then he's going to have the last laugh on this first week....
lavaredo More than 1 year ago
very good article. I think the truth is that the Tour is the most prestigious race in the world but not the most difficult one. The mountains are generaly not hard enough or not close enough to the finish to make a real difference and the race is much easier to control, which is ideal for a team like Sky. So it ultimately comes down to who wins the TT (amongts the good climbers). It is boring frankly and in how many of the past years the plot has been 1) the TT makes the difference 2) those battling out for final victory arrive all together in all main mountain stages?.Frankly all the Tours I can remember have been like that and I think they should do something to make the race more exciting. The Giro went climb-crazy few years ago but the Tour has the opposite problem.. The Giro is much more chaotic and uncontrollable. Initiative and courage are rewarded. Wiggins does not seem to have a lot of either. Having said that I stil expect him to take the pink jersey today (but not to keep it till the end).
marginalgain More than 1 year ago
This Giro may come down to two camps. The gain in TT limit loss in the mountains vs the limit loss in the TT gain in the mountains. Historically Wiggo and Cadel are in the first camp and Nibali et al in the 2nd. Is there enough TT road for Wiggo i don't think so. Cadel has said he has high hopes but not high expectations. Is he here for form for the tour? Can Nibali and Ryder attack the s**t out of the other two blow their legs off and make enough time that the TTs dont matter. Will a dark horse come out of nowhere to steal it. This started out possibly being boring a race as last years tour but the first week has poised more questions then have been answered.
Evan Shaw More than 1 year ago
The giro is the sibling who never got the respect. For years mainly playing second Fiddle. It too was predictable the mountain goats would have their course or the role urns depending on who the local favorites were. Then it went wildly dangerous and vertical. Now finally a bit more balanced and frankly more interesting.
Andrea Cerri More than 1 year ago
In Italy we love Giro and we are proud of it. But I agree that in the past Tour was better organized and more international in the past, but now it seems that we are nearer to the Tour in both aspects. And frankly we have among the best mountains of the World for cycling :-) And for us Grand Tour = Mountains, maybe it's in the DNA :-)
ellenbrook2001 More than 1 year ago
that very simple the strong men will win cause his a such demanding tour the one will have the fresh legs will make the difference then be ready for some drama in the mountain that will be interesting on the other hand if WIGGINS do not succeed or have a problem then the leader for the tour DE France could again be on the spot light cannot wait too see it?
mike73nz More than 1 year ago
You missed the part of the winner will be the rider with the least amount of time at the end of the tour...
jennings1 More than 1 year ago
US Postal never rode The Giro with Armstrong, its alot harder to control as SKY are finding out! Its a better more pure form of cycling!
Robert Millar

Robert Millar was one of the last pure climbers of the Tour de France, winning several stages in the mountain stages and finishing fourth overall in 1984. He is also the only English speaker to have ever won the prestigious polka-dot jersey climber's competition jersey.

Millar retired in 1995 but has continued to follow the sport closely. He was often critical of the media and quickly cuts through the excuses and spin to understand why and how riders win and lose.

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