Briton targets Saturday's time trial
Bradley Wiggins will race against Lance Armstrong for the first time since last year's Tour de France this week, as both riders continue their early season racing.
Armstrong made his debut with Team RadioShack at the Tour Down Under and then spent time training in Hawaii before traveling to Europe last week.
Wiggins rode the Tour of Qatar, helping Team Sky win the opening time trial, before heading to Spain for last week's Ruta del Sol. He was beaten by Alex Rasmussen (Saxo Bank) in the time trial but then went on the attack to test his form during the final road stage.
Both were perhaps surprised to see Tour de France rival Alberto Contador perform so well at the Volta ao Algarve and win overall but both seem on track as they build up for the summer.
Wiggins told Cyclingnews in Qatar that the five-day Tour of Murcia was a possible overall objective.
His overall result will perhaps depend on the form of other big names such 2009 winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions). However Wiggins is surely the favourite for Saturday's flat and fast 22km stage.
The Tour of Murcia will see British directeur sportif Rod Ellingworth make his debut in the first team car. He has worked closely with Wiggins in recent months during training camps.
"If he has a good week, Brad cold get a result and the time trial is definitely an objective," Ellingworth told Cyclingnews.
"He's now out of his conditioning phase and so this month, both Murcia and Catalunya are about racing and making the most about each day. Of course, it's also about the big picture and thinking ahead of the summer. We got some good information from the Ruta del Sol and when he went on the attack on the last stage. It's all good."
"If he goes well the team will ride for him but if not then guys like Morris Possoni, Chris Froome and John-Lee Augustyn will have their chance. They're all going well and make up a good chunk of the team that will ride with Brad at the Giro d'Italia. It's also about being together and working together."
"The time trial will be a good test and hopefully he can get it all out over the 22km but if someone is faster, then fair enough. It's important he works on his pre-race routine and gets the focus right."
Wiggins' biggest rivals in the time trial will likely be Zabriskie, Armstrong and the Texan's RadioShack teammate Andreas Kloden. It will be fascinating to see how Wiggins and Armstrong compare.
"It's good for Brad to race against Lance and see where he is against him," Ellingworth confirmed. "It's easy to get distracted by what your rivals are doing but it's good to get a look at them as well. They probably both saw that Contador was very good at Algarve but Brad's got nothing to worry about. He's in good shape."
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