Despite finishing stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar in third place Bradley Wiggins believes that he is well ahead of his form and fitness from twelve months ago. Wiggins came into the 10.9 kilometre test as the main favourite but was beaten by new race leader and defending champion Niki Terpstra and Fabian Cancellara.
“It was really difficult out there with the wind and with being on road bikes. No one is really used to it. It’s the early season but it’s still the same names that have come out on top,” Wiggins said after a cool-down ride in the Qatari desert.
Wiggins is making his season debut in Qatar after missing the Challenge Mallorca last week. The world time trial champion has been using the warm-weather racing as part of his build-up to the Classics and although he has not featured in the road stages so far, and sits 78th in the overall, he is content with his current form, comparing it to twelve months ago.
“Compared to where I was this time last year I’m in a better place. Everything is geared towards being good in April and I’ve done all this enough times to know that I’m in a good place. I’m happy,” he said.
“I’ve not been up there in the fight but the goal was to come here, do a decent time trial, stay safe and then come out of it healthy and ready for the Classics in a better position.”
“It’s been a tough race up until now but no matter which group you’re in it’s still a tough race. I’ve done it enough times to know what it takes you onto, so it’s either this or training but you couldn’t have got much harder than yesterday’s stage. Whether you’re first or last on the road it was a tough day for everyone and those sort of days are difficult to replicate.”
As well as taking on the Classics, with Paris-Roubaix set to be his last road race for Team Sky, Wiggins will also make an assault on the Hour Record, hence the focus on today’s time trial.
“I’m where I want to be. Compared to last year I feel streets ahead. I’m not really one for days like yesterday with the fighting and getting stuck in so I’m pretty content.”
With the time trial out of the way and his overall position ruling him out of GC, Wiggins will now turn his attention to riding as a domestique for Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe. Both riders sit within the top ten overall, with the latter leading the young rider’s classification.
“We have Ian and Luke both up there and then I’ll turn to having more of a team role. We’ll try and keep those guys in contention and go from there.”