Irishman doubts Sky leader's ability to handle pressure
After only ten days of racing, Bradley Wiggins has held all of his promises and taken a firm grip on the yellow jersey of the Tour de France. The Brit has proven highly superior to his rivals in the time trial, and largely competitive in the mountains. While many observers therefore seem to think that the overall victory is already sealed, others reckon that Wiggins may still crack, keeping in mind the total length and challenges of the race, as well as other possible incidents that could make the Brit lose his focus and temper.
"I think Wiggins can win this Tour, if everything happens without a hitch or setback," confirmed former multiple green jersey winner Sean Kelly to L'Equipe on Monday evening. But the Irishman, who is working for British Eurosport at the race, also had his doubts concerning Wiggins' psychological strengths.
"Bradley has always been fragile," he added. "A puncture or another upsetting incident can make him lose his head. Last year, Evans experienced some mechanical problems behind Contador, in the stage to L'Alpe-d'Huez, and if it had been Wiggins, he would have panicked. But to win the Tour, you have to know how to stay calm, overcome adversity, whatever it may be - and that, I'm not sure he's able to do."
Kelly's assessment comes just two days after Wiggins lost his temper at a press conference, when a journalist confronted him with a comparison of his strong Sky team to the former American US Postal squad under Lance Armstrong, not omitting the doping-related doubts that have recently been fuelled. Wiggins reacted with anger and insults.
"A journalist dared to compare the strategies of team Sky with those of US Postal. [His reaction] proves what I said: he loses control of his nerves quite quickly," said Kelly, underlining that such a comparison could be interpreted in many different ways.
"The analogy is obvious. Team Sky at this Tour undoubtedly races like US Postal. Then, it depends on how you interpret the comparison, but that's part of the game, and Wiggins will have to get used to it. As soon as a rider dominated, he becomes the subject of all suspicions and that's unfortunately part of cycling today."
Indeed, the press conferences of the Tour's overall leader always include a question or two on their stance regarding doping. According to many observers, Wiggins' unnerved reaction, however, didn't do himself any favours.