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An unhappy Bradley Wiggins (Sky) after a mechanical
Team Sky left to rue compact chainset complexities
The British team won the team time trial, the second TTT win in the history of the team, and a road stage with Kanstantin Siutsou. Wiggins and all the team looked strong and well-drilled, with the Giro d'Italia weeks away.
Everything changed and their chances of overall victory disappeared when Wiggins' gears let him down.
The Tour de France winner was chasing Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the climb when his gears seemed to slip and spin out. He was using a compact Shimano SRM chainset and a lowest gear of 36x28. For some reason the gears refused to work perfectly.
Wiggins eventually finished ninth on the stage, 1:39 behind winner and Giro d'Italia rival Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). He finished the four-day race in fifth place, 1:40 down on Nibali.
When his gears refused to work, Wiggins climbed off his Pinarello bike and pushed it away in anger, letting it fall against a wall. He was quickly given his spare bike by the Team Sky mechanic but the race had disappeared up the road. He chased hard and closed the gap to the leaders even though Nibali was in full flow with a teammate and then with Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia). However victory had gone.
Wiggins fought his way to the finish but a further technical issue slowed him: his spare bike was fitted with a 39 chain ring, leaving him over geared on the steepest part of the climb.
Cyclingnews studied both of Wiggins' bikes to understand what happened. His spare bike was fitted with a new FC-9000 Dura Ace Di2 chainset, while his race bike, the one which failed, was fitted with an older SRM Dura Ace SRM chainset. Team Sky staff were vague about why Wiggins' spare bike was fitted with a 39 inner ring.
No comment from Wiggins
Wiggins was naturally angry after crossing the finish line. He continued to ride up the road to the team bus, dissipating some of his anger on the road.
After spending 20 minutes on the bus, Wiggins refused to speak to the handful of waiting journalists. The team positioned a getaway car close to the front of the bus and Wiggins jumped in quickly, refusing to talk as if he was running from the paparazzi.
His teammates and team staff were left to do the explaining.
"He had a problem on the first climb and as everyone saw, another one on the last climb. I haven't seen the bike and been able to find the problem but it was his gears," directeur sportif Marcus Ljungqvist said.
"When you change bikes you lose your rhythm. Brad did a great job fighting his way up there. But you can't give anything to guys like Nibali on such a tough climb like that. We didn’t expect them to wait."
"Looking at the big picture, it's all looking good for the Giro d'Italia, that's the main thing."
Siutsou waited for Wiggins but could do little to help his team leader.
"We perhaps paid for all the work we did at altitude and I didn't have a great day either. He changed bikes and I waited for him to give him a hand but he went past me at twice my speed," the Belarus rider said.
"After he changed bikes, he didn’t have the right gear. He was close to getting back on but then there were the really hard parts of the climb and Nibali was able to spin a lower gear and save his legs."