Bradley Wiggins has played down his status as the Tour de France favourite, but has admitted that the fact that he is in that position indicates that his build-up to the race has gone to plan. Speaking before the Tour presentation in Liège on Thursday evening, the Team Sky rider said he can’t wait for the race to get underway, beginning with what he described as an “awesome” prologue on Saturday.
Asked about his approach if he happens to win that prologue, Wiggins replied: “I don’t know what the situation will be if I win it and end up in the yellow jersey. It’s the Tour and we’re obviously not going to defend the jersey for three weeks that’s for sure. But you take anything you get in the Tour because it’s the Tour de France. But we’ll worry about that on Sunday if it happens.”
The Briton added: “What I’ve been really good at this year is putting performances together and I don’t think that should be any different on Saturday when I roll down that ramp. This is what we’ve been training for, regardless of all the other races and people saying ‘Has he peaked?’ They’ve been saying that since March 3rd and here we are two days before the Tour de France and I’m the favourite so I think we’ve done pretty well to get here. I’m just looking forward to it. It’s going to be an awesome prologue.”
Pressed on how being the favourite has changed things for him, Wiggins responded: “It doesn’t really change anything. It doesn’t change what you have to do. It just means that you have to answer more questions – ‘What does it mean?’ and that kind of stuff. I’ve been in this position before on the track so it’s not a new thing.”
Once more he was asked about the possibility of having peaked too soon, having taken victory at Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandy and the Critérium du Dauphiné. Evidently frustrated at having to respond to this question yet again, Wiggins said: “I feel like I have to justify it all the time, but we’ll see. Ultimately what I say now and have been saying since March doesn’t really count. We’ll see on the road in the next three weeks. If you were to ask me that question in Paris we could talk about it. But what can I say now? I’m trained for the Tour de France. I’ve happened to win three big races this year.”
He then emphasised the boost he has had from his winning form this year. “When we set off on this last November, if we had known we would be in this position now and won the races we’ve won, we’d have taken that. I’m in fantastic condition. The team is equally strong, which is very important in this race, so it all bodes well. I’m delighted to be in this position.”
Wiggins was also asked about the specific pressure he will face during the Tour’s 100km of time trialling. “What can I say?” he shrugged. “You’ve still got to go up mountains in the Tour. The Tour doesn’t just consist of three time trials. There is a lot of other stuff in between as well. I’m in a position where if I win the Tour it’s because there’s a lot of time trials in it and I think that’s a little bit disappointing really. If I happen to win the Tour I’ll perhaps always be remembered as someone who won it because it had three time trials in it. Everyone forgets that when Greg LeMond won the Tour [in 1989] it had five time trials.”