Briton upbeat despite a difficult first week
Despite a difficult first week of crashes, set backs and lost time, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is still convinced he can win the Giro d'Italia.
Wiggins is currently 1:16 behind race leader and big rival Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). He conceded that the rain-soaked descents have been a problem and revealed he has some minor injuries but believes that Nibali is beatable.
"I think so, even if it's going to be a mammoth task now but not impossible," he said during a rest day press conference in Treviso.
"During the last two Grand Tours I've done with Nibali, he's had some bad day in the mountains. I beat him by 6:19 in the Tour last year. The Giro is a lot different to the Tour, but we put time into him on the mountains."
"He's the best I've ever seen him but the Giro is his to lose now. 1:15 is a lot in the Tour, but not so much in the Giro, as we've seen in the past. I think the only danger now, is that some of those bigger climbs, the Galibier the Gavia, won't be passable if the weather stays as it is. If we lose one or two of them, it'll play into other people's hands. One thing's for sure though, the gap won't stay at 1:15 in Brescia."
Wiggins accepted he will have to change his race strategy and perhaps even go on the attack.
"Yeah, but not be reckless," he said.
"It's about biding your time, be calculating and being good every day. Maybe you take 20 seconds one day and 12 on another. You saw how Ryder won last year by limiting his loses to Rodriguez each time. It's not like that I can drop him (Nibali) tomorrow, but maybe if he's isolated in 10 days time and his team have been riding for 10 days, you might be able to distance him. We did that in the Tour last year going over the Télégraphe and then on the rise to the finish. The race could change each day."
After a relaxed ride around Treviso in the sun and a visit to the offices of bike sponsor Pinarello, Wiggins seemed more relaxed than in recent days. He had become the grouch of the Giro but was far more open after reflecting on the first week of the race.
"It's been up and down, it's been challenging. It started off well with the team time trial. After that I seemed to have one problem after another really, up until yesterday. The Giro is like that, every time I've ridden the Giro it's been challenging, let alone when you're going for the GC. It wasn't a surprise, you just have to deal with it," he said.
"I've been licking my wounds. I've had a cold, I've got a sore left knee and a sore hip after the crash. The TT didn't go to plan. I was dithering yesterday and thinking of other things. But physically I'm fine and that meant I also let it go a little. I'm capable of doing it when I want to but it's a question of commitment sometimes. Physically everything is better than it has ever been. Hopefully now with the longer summit finishes I'll be able to put into action."
Wiggins admitted that racing in the rain has always been a problem but it is a weakness that has not been revealed or tested since he became a Grand Tour winner.
"The crash ruffled me a little bit. I was taking a gamble a bit the other day, and yesterday, I didn't really turn up yesterday mentally," he said.
"I always struggle with the cold and when it rains I think: 'I'm going to get cold now, and that'll be the end of me.' On the day to Pescara the crashes played a part in it because the roads were treacherous. I don't like riding in the rain, especially in the high mountains like tomorrow because of how cold you get. My mind always goes back to Catalunya two years ago. There's only so much you can dress, to protect yourself from the cold. That's my worst fear, so I hope the weather is okay."
Despite the setbacks and despite the rumours he might start thinking about the Tour de France if he loses more time, Wiggins is ready to fight on in the mountains.
"It is what it is now. We're fourth, over a minute off the lead with two weeks of the hardest racing left to go. I think we'll look back in Brescia and say it's nothing," he suggested.
"Last year after the first week at the Tour, the gaps were so small that you think it's everything but when you get to Paris it's about six, ten, twelve minutes in the top five. I think the gaps will be even more here, with what's to come, especially with the last three days of the race. There's a lot more to come. We're a minute off the lead, one second off the podium, which is not a bad place to be in with two of the hardest weeks of any Grand Tour to come."
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