Bradley Wiggins’ strong ride in Friday’s 27km time trial and Saturday’s tough hilly stage in rain means the British rider is set to finish on the podium in Paris-Nice and confirm he is still Team Sky’s team leader for major stage races.
Wiggins finished eighth, just a few seconds behind Rémy Di Gregorio (Astana) in Sophia Antipolis, and is now 41 seconds behind race leader Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) and just five seconds down on Andreas Klöden (RadioShack).
“After the disappointment of last year, I’ve looked after myself all winter,” Wiggins told Cyclingnews before the start line of stage seven in Brignoles.
“I wanted to go well early this season. It was always the plan that I’d be ready for Paris-Nice after riding the Tour of Qatar and the track in Manchester.”
“Yesterday was just a good time trial for me. I’ve always been a good time trialist. The course was good for me as well but Tony (Martin) is phenomenal at the moment. I probably haven’t got the legs to drop him in the climb, so I’m happy with my third place. I now don’t want to do something stupid and lose my position.”
Wiggins said he feels “a huge improvement from last year” when he finished a disappointed 24th at the Tour de France.
His next races are Milan-San Remo, Criterium International and Paris-Roubaix. The two-day, three-stage race in Corsica at the end of March will be a big goal because it includes a key time trial stage. After riding on the cobbles at Paris-Roubaix, he then begin to focus on his build up for the 2011 Tour de France,
“After Paris-Roubaix, I’ll give all for the Tour de France”, he explained. “I won’t race much. I’ll do the Dauphiné after the Bayern Rundfahrt and lots of altitude training.”