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Bradley Wiggins (Sky) had a somewhat disappointing time.
Team Sky leader disappointed to lose time but bullish about rest of the Tour
The L'Equipe newspaper used the somewhat sarcastic headline "Wiggins, bye-bye podium" after he lost time on the climb to Morzine Avoriaz on Sunday. But on the first day, the Briton refused to admit his hopes of a possible good overall result were over in this year's Tour de France.
Wiggins lost 1:45 to stage winner Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) after losing contact in the final kilometres of the climb to Morzine Avoriaz. He is now 14th overall, 2:45 behind race leader Cadel Evans (BMC) but is still bullish about his chances.
"I suppose I always feel disappointed whatever the result, because I always feel I can give more," he said. "It was one of those days yesterday. It wasn't a bad day and it wasn't a great day. It was one of the days in the middle. If I keep having those middle days, I'm going to be in the ballpark in Paris somewhere in the GC.
"Losing time is not fantastic. I'm not going to lie. But what can I do? Go home or stay here and battle for the next two weeks and see what happens. The goal now is to get the best out of me every day and we'll where we are in Paris. The Pyrenees is where it's going to be won and lost. I think the time gaps in Paris will be minutes. If we're still 2:45 down in Paris, we're going to be on the podium. We'll see."
Like all the overall favourites, Wiggins has had to battle through a testing first week, a far harder first week than he faced in 2009. He is hoping for a more usual Tour de France in he remaining two weeks of racing.
"It's nice to get the first week done and get into the pattern of the race," he said. "There has been a lot of difficult stages in the first week, with the prologue, the crashes and the cobbles. A month ago, if someone had said we'd be in this position time wise, we'd have taken it. There are still two weeks to go and a lot of bike racing to go."
Of his 2:45 deficit he said, "That's the gap and you take what it is and move forward. I've done a lot of work on not getting carried way with the great days and not getting down with the bad days. I could sit here tomorrow and we could be having a totally different conversation. That's what's so great about the Tour de France."
Wiggins and his Team Sky teammates trained for three hours on Monday before Tuesday's Alpine stage to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. He insisted that he is looking forward to another showdown in the mountains and the harsh truths it might confirm.
"I'm feeling good today. We got quite organised, and the whole team went out for a decent ride. We're trying not to treat it like a rest day but an easier day. We're trying not to switch off too much with the stage coming tomorrow. We did three hours and included a good climb in there," he said.
"Tomorrow is going to be another tough day, at least I hope it is," he said. "There will be a selection over the Madeleine. Cadel is in the jersey but hasn't really got the team that can ride. Astana has looked the strongest in the mountains.
"The Madeleine is a proper Alpine climb and it's one of the tougher ones. And the climbs before it add up too. It's a traditional day in the mountains, compared to yesterday, when the whole peloton arrived en masse at the foot of the Ramaz which caused extra problems.
"It should be whittled down by the time we hit the Madeleine. Tougher, the better. At least you know where you stand. After tomorrow, we'll know who is that select group."
We will also know if Wiggins is part of it.