Bradley Wiggins continued his build-up to the Giro d’Italia by reconnoitering stage 20 to Tre Cime di Lavaredo at the weekend. The Sky rider was in the Dolomites ahead of the Giro del Trentino, which gets underway on Tuesday, and he decided to avail of the opportunity to check out the Giro’s penultimate stage.
It was a somewhat limited opportunity, however, given that snow still banks the roads of the Dolomites at this early point in the year. After leaving Bolzano by car, Wiggins arrived at the foot of the Passo Costalunga, stage 20’s first climb, to find the road closed.
Wiggins was able to ride up the day’s second ascent, the Passo San Pellegrino, but the subsequent Passo Giau was also closed and he climbed back into the car with coach Tim Kerrison and Dario Cioni and sped towards the foot of the Passo Tre Croci.
He continued his reconnaissance on the final haul up the Tre Cime di Lavaredo but he was forced to stop some six kilometres short of the summit due to the snow and he opted not to continue to the top by sled.
“I didn’t see the hardest part of the Tre Cime, which is the last part, but it was still a useful recon,” Wiggins told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I can’t tell you too much about the bits I did in the car because I was asleep…”
The tappone to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo follows on from the short but fearsome stage to Val Martello and the mountain time trial to Polsa, and Wiggins believes that the Giro d’Italia could well be decided by then.
“I know the Giro was decided on the last day last year, but there was a time trial and it’s not so often that the race really stays up right until the end. But it will be the last climb of the Giro. I’d never tried it before and it’s beautiful, a breathtaking view. If you come here with bad legs, it’s really going to hurt.”
Wiggins had trained in Mallorca before arriving in Italy for the Giro del Trentino. He told Gazzetta that he has been on antibiotics “for the last two or three days” due to a saddle sore and he confirmed that he will not line up at next Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège: “Doing it two days after Trentino would be too stressful.”
This time last year, Wiggins was amassing stage race wins as he built towards the Tour de France but his approach to the Giro has been far more low-key. His best result to date in 2013 is his 5th place finish at the Volta a Catalunya.
"The difference is that in the races I’ve done, like Catalunya, there hasn’t been a time trial. I think it’s fair to say that if there’d been a time trial in Catalunya I’d probably have won the race because I limited my losses very well in the mountains," said Wiggins, who will line up against Giro rivals Cadel Evans (BMC), Ivan Basso (Cannondale) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) at the Giro del Trentino this week.
“Vincenzo will be a point of reference. I don’t know what to expect from Cadel and Ivan but I don’t consider them as just outsiders – they know what it means to ride a Giro to win it,” Wiggins said. “I saw Scarponi riding quite well in Catalonia and there’s Hesjedal too. I was serious when I said at the start of the year that it would be a tougher challenge than the Tour.”