Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to this year’s Paris-Roubaix. The 34-year-old will bring the curtain down on his time with the team at the French races and wants to give himself the best opportunity of going out with a bang. Wiggins announced his decision to extend his contract with Team Sky to the end of April on Monday.
His preparation has included a winter trip to the famous cobbles. “We have been looking at the course and we looked at it a few weeks ago in the wet,” Wiggins told Sky Sports.
“We went out to northern France and it is nice to see it in those conditions because I have never ridden the cobbles in the rain and it gives you an appreciation of what they are like when they are wet. Then when it comes to race day, you have tried them in all different extremes.”
Without the pressure of riding the Tour de France, Wiggins was able to ride Paris-Roubaix for the second time in Team Sky colours in 2014. He was part of the ten-man group that contained race winner Niki Terpstra and eventually went on to finish ninth, bettering his previous best finish of 25th five years before. Wiggins took huge confidence from the appearance and says that he will approach this year's race with an anything can happen attitude.
“Last year’s race got me half way, because that was the realisation that I can do it. I was in with a chance of winning the race with 10km to go,” he explained. “I learnt a lot from last year. It was an invaluable experience. I learnt to have a plan going into the final, because so much of the preparation is about being fit enough and looking at the cobbled sections, and then all of a sudden you find yourself in the final with a team-mate up against another team with three of four riders.
“I think running through all the different scenarios in the final is possibly something we would have done differently…. Omega Pharma - Quick-Step had strength in numbers there, and that’s something we needed to plan for. I wasn’t expecting to be in that position in some ways, so this time we will have to plan for all eventualities.”
Wiggins accepts that planning for any outcome means that he may not be the team’s leader come April, and that he could be working for his teammate Geraint Thomas instead. “It could be that, on the day, Geraint is the leader. He is really targeting some big races early in the season, like Paris-Nice, so if he hits those in form, there is no reason why he won’t be leader that day,” said Wiggins.
“In a race like Paris-Roubaix, the ideal scenario would be for us to be in the same position we were in this year, and then it could be any one of us. The return of Ian Stannard will also be an influence.”
Thomas was the only other Team Sky rider to make it into the race-winning move in 2014 and beat Wiggins by finishing seventh in the final sprint. The Welshman also claimed a top 10 at the Tour of Flanders a week prior and was third at E3 Harelbeke. He went on to win the Commonwealth Games Road Race and overall at the Bayern Rundfahrt later in the year.
“Geraint is on the verge of winning something huge,” Wiggins said of his teammate. “He has shown that potential and quality for the last few years.”
Wiggins will likely move to his new Continental development team, which is due to be revealed in the coming weeks.