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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
Sky leader looks to salvage his Tour
On Saturday afternoon at 14:57 local time Bradley Wiggins (Sky) will roll down the start ramp in Bordeaux, chasing down a much-desired Tour de France stage win that could make some amends for his disappointing performance in the general classification.
Before the start of La Grande Boucle the Englishman might have hoped that the time-trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac would be decisive in his hunt for a possible podium place in Paris. Instead, the past three weeks have shown us that Wiggins hasn't been able to compete with the best in the mountains this time around and he's now back in 24th overall, trailing yellow jersey Alberto Contador (Astana) by more than forty minutes.
Right after finishing the stage to Bordeaux Wiggins was surprisingly fresh after 200 kilometres on windy roads. When asked whether he felt capable of defeating Fabian Cancellara he laughed, acknowledging that the Swiss strongman was the man to beat.
“It all depends on how everybody's feeling on the day. It's a long one as well so it's as much a mental challenge as it is physical,” Wiggins said.
That mental challenge might be all important for a man like Cancellara who has been working hard for Andy Schleck, even leading the main group at the foot of the Col du Tourmalet on Thursday afternoon.
Wiggins rode the time trial course before the Tour de France and noted the strong winds that often blow in from the sea. “It's quite a strong wind as well. I've done the course in training,” Wiggins said. “All I can do is give it my best shot and see what happens at the finish line.”
Team-mate Geraint Thomas showed during the prologue in Rotterdam that he's capable of providing competition from within the team for that stage win in Pauillac but Wiggins believes things have changed a lot since then. Nonetheless he was keen to laud his team-mate's abilities against the clock. “Obviously he proved that in the prologue. There's quite a few people that could potentially win on paper tomorrow but it doesn't always go to the textbook in the last time trial,” Wiggins said.
During the prologue in Rotterdam the rain showers proved to be a deciding factor on the technical course, ruining Wiggins' chances of a good result. When asked about the potential influence of the weather during the time trial Wiggins reacted sharply. “If I was a weather man I would be able to tell you but I ain't,” Wiggins said.
Consequently, Cyclingnews consulted a weather man and found out that there was no rain predicted for Saturday, offering every rider a fair chance against the clock. The wind might be a minor factor however as there will be a breeze blowing in from the west-northwest, eventually turning northwest. The course from Bordeaux to Pauillac heads north-northwest meaning that riders who start later might be disadvantaged. Fabian Cancellara starts his time trial at 11:21, more than three hours before Wiggins.