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Wiggins confirms that Froome will lead Team Sky in Oman

By:
Stephen Farrand
Published:
February 11, 2013, 17:32 GMT,
Updated:
February 11, 2013, 22:32 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Race:
Tour of Oman
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) at the start of the Trofeo Migjorn

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) at the start of the Trofeo Migjorn

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Tour winner loses 1:21 on stage one after late crash

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) lost 1:21 on the opening stage of the Tour of Oman and is last overall in the general classification after a late crash caused a split in the peloton.

Speaking immediately after the finish, Wiggins claimed he got stopped by the crash and believed that he would not lose time because the crash happened inside the last three kilometres. However, race officials saw things differently. They applied the rule to four other riders, who finished the stage behind Wiggins, giving them the same time as stage winner Marcel Kittel, but Wiggins was not given back the time he lost. He is shown as 142nd in the overall classification of the race, 1:31 down on Kittel.

Before knowing he had lost time, Wiggins had already played down his chances of success at the Tour of Oman, confirming the British team will ride for Chris Froome on the decisive mountain stage to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain) on Thursday. Speaking to Cyclingnews later in the evening, Wiggins seemed unfazed by the time loss.

Wiggins arrived in Oman late on Saturday night and has been training and racing hard in Mallorca recently. In 2012 he trained intensively, often at altitude, and then raced to win. But with the Giro d'Italia his first big goal of the 2013 season before then focusing on the Tour de France, now is the time for him to stack up an important base of fitness rather than think about early-season success.

"I feel a bit lethargic and perhaps jet-lagged. I think I just need a day or two to get into it," he explained after stage one.

"The last six weeks have been pretty constantly hard. This is the start of a race phase now and then we go to Tenerife after this. Catalunya is when we want to start doing something, followed by Trentino and Liege-Bastogne-Liege."

Wiggins knows his body intimately and knows what his current form will allow him to do in Oman. He would perhaps like to fight it out with Contador, Evans, Nibali and teammate Froome but knows he might not yet have the form to take on riders who have raced hard and even won already in 2013.

"You get to these races and you want to be part of it; I'd love to be up there on the climb in a few day's time, but the reality is that I probably won't be," he said.

"But for what were aiming for in a couple of months' time, this is the period where it needs to be done. Which is quite different last year when we raced to win."

Perhaps as will happen during the Tour de France in July, Wiggins is ready to work to ensure Froome does his best for Team Sky.

"The goal is to get Froome to the top there as best as possible. My title is second GC and how that pans out, whether I go for it as well or if we do some sort of training before it, remains to be seen," Wiggins said.

After winning a mountain stage at the Tour de San Luis, Contador is the favourite to win on atop Green Mountain. However, Wiggins prefers to focus on his own training and racing rather than gathering intelligence on his key rivals. He did not know that Contador had won in Argentina and struggled to identify Joaquim Rodríguez.

"I don’t really follow the results. What did he (Contador) do?" he asked, with genuine ingenuity.

"I think he's probably the favourite on a climb like that. Then there's the Spanish guy from Katusha who is quite good too. Looking how steep it is in the book, it seems suited to those guys."

With stage distances relatively short in Oman, Wiggins had hoped to get in some extra kilometres after the daily racing. However the main roads back to Muscat are mainly motorways and packed with high-speed local drivers, meaning Team Sky will have plan their race tactics and their training plans very carefully.

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