By Brecht Decaluwé in Bourg-en-Bresse
On Friday morning, Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) gave a hint that he'd be the man to watch on stage six, and true to his word, the current World Champion in pursuit made up the race's only breakaway. "This morning I told the guys in the bus that I would try to be in the break," he told Cyclingnews.
"I went with the first attack, we were with five or six guys in the attack: Cedric Hervé, a Milram guy and a couple others. Then I pulled a big turn and when I looked back I found myself alone. I carried on and hoped somebody would come across in the counterattack but nobody came. Then I found myself with a minute, two minutes, ... then I said: this is the Tour de France so you can't sit up. I just settled in for a long day," Wiggins admitted about about his 190km solo effort.
"Any breakaway in the Tour de France is good publicity and you can make a name for yourself. It was just one of those things. You can't choose when you get in the break in the Tour de France, it just kind a happens. Especially when you end up on your own it was just a long day into the headwind really, pretty relentless," Wiggins reflected.
At one point, Wiggins had 17 minutes on the peloton so he must have had hope he could keep up his solo effort. "I thought it one time because it happened in the past that long breakaways survived in the Tour de France. When it turned 15-10 [km] to go with that headwind I knew that the peloton was going to be right there," Wiggins said realistically about his chances during his brave attack.
Doing a intensive solo training ride of 190km can't be easy on the morale, but the Brit passed his time with essential activities. "You just count the kilometres down really, just eating and drinking the whole day," said Wiggins, describing his day.
"With 60km to go, it was pretty tough but when the chase in the peloton started [with 30km to go], I picked it up again. They probably thought they would catch me a bit earlier, but I heard that Crédit Agricole was riding, so I thought I would make it a little harder for them," Wiggins referred to the rivalry between the French teams.
It was 40 years ago since Wiggins' compatriot Tom Simpson passed away on the flanks of the Mont Ventoux, and Wiggins was asked if he attacked to honour the legend. "Somebody told me after the race, but I never thought about that really. It's good though," Wiggins said.
The Brit's popularity has increased since he adopted a new haircut and told the French press that like music, this attack will certainly make him a bit more popular. "It makes me look even more stupid," Wiggins laughed. "Somebody had to do it I guess."
After the race Tour president Christian Prudhomme talked a little to Wiggins. "He said 'Congratulations,' and I told him somebody had to make the race," he said.