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Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) climbs in the bunch.
Briton to support teammates, unaffected by Tour de France rivals' form
Bradley Wiggins will ride for Team Sky teammates Simon Gerrans and Thomas Lövkvist at Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège but hopes to be part of the decisive selection that will form on the Côte de la Redoute and go on to fight for victory.
Wiggins is already thinking ahead to next month's Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in July - his major goal of the season. But he always likes to race and knows that a hard day on Sunday against his eventual Tour de France rivals Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck, will also be a good test of his form.
"The initial idea to come here was to support Simon [Gerrans] and Thomas [Lövkvist] who are really looking at these races. They're the leaders. But there's always an opportunity to slip away and I'll look for that," he told Cyclingnews on Friday.
"If I can get over the La Redoute in that selection of 20 or whatever it will be, then there's always a bit of a chance of doing something. But just being up there in these races is something. I'm just looking forward to it. 260 kilometres like that is bloody hard and in a fitness sense it's fantastic to do."
Wiggins studied the final part of the route on Thursday with his teammates. He predicted the changes caused by road works and the subsequent loss of the Haute-Levée and Vecquée climbs will mean the La Redoute climb become much more important.
"I grew up watching these races on television and so it was good finally riding the course. When you actually ride the La Redoute and the Saint-Nicolas, you see how hard they are," he said.
"Some of the guys are saying it's a lot easier before the La Redoute this year. They've changed quite a lot of the course and there's a lot of downhill sections an a lot of flat for moves to come back, so this year we could get to the foot of the La Redoute with a lot more riders, which would make it harder still."
Wiggins is not yet at his very best, his race programme designed to hit his highest peak of form and strength-to-weight ratio for the Tour in July. But he is happy with his condition as he Giro d'Italia approaches. He will target the opening time trial in Amsterdam, the team time trial and a spell in the leader's pink jersey.
"I'm a lot better than I was this time last year just going into the Giro," he said. "We did some testing on some local climbs in Spain which I was also doing this time last year. It's all numbers based, but I'm in a really good position.
Wiggins will race against most of his major Tour de France rivals at Liège-Bastogne-Liège but he insists the outcome of the race will not be any kind of indication for July.
"I never really look at the other guys," he said. "They're much more natural climbers for this kind of thing than I am. Contador, Andy and Fränk are proven contenders in this race. I need some more hard work and the climbs don't really suit my style of riding."
"I just always keep referring to where I was last year and where I want to be be. I'm try not to get sucked into this thing of saying I should be where they are or that I should be side-by-side with Cadel [Evans] on the Mur de Huy, because I'm 100 per cent confident in what I'm doing and where I'll be in July."