First targets of 2014 are Paris-Roubaix, Tour of California
Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins says he has come to terms with the success of 2012 and that after an uneven 2013 he is looking forward to racing in 2014.
"I've come into this season wanting to race," Wiggins said on Tuesday during a team training camp in Mallorca, "and that's the main thing. It's a little bit like two years ago, in 2012, and it's always a good sign being happy like that."
Realising that he had rocketed to the top of the cycling hierarchy in 2012 was hard for him to handle, Wiggins said, and he paid the price for it in 2013, when he did not perform as well as expected.
"I started to come to terms with it all last summer, missing the Tour was a blessing in disguise. Before there was a big hangover from 2012 and it was like ‘God, I've got to start doing it all over again.' I've never struggled with training but once I got into racing [in 2013], I was going through the motions."
So far Wiggins says he is in good shape. Coming off a good season end in 2013, with the Tour of Britain win and a silver medal in the world championship time trial "set me up going into the winter. I wasn't chasing my tail."
Sky also held a series of day-long meetings over the off-season with all the team to re-assess and remember their overall goals, which Wiggins said had helped enormously, "and that bodes well for 2013."
Rather than specific goals, Wiggins says over the winter he had aimed to get to his physical level of the start of 2012 and then take it from there. "For me it's about hitting the ground running like in 2012. I went to Oman last year and I was struggling."
A number of major Classics feature on the program, with Paris-Roubaix his first big target and then the overall classification at the Tour of California, which he last rode in 2008.
"All being well I would then slot back into the pre-Tour program, which is the [Criterium du] Dauphine and altitude training. But rather than assuming I'm in such and such a position for the Tour, it's all small steps forward, not just performance goals. Some of them are training goals and assessing where I'm at, which is quite important for me."
Asked about how he saw July, Wiggins said, "Chris is set to dominate the Tour for the next few years, and for me to be able to get back to the Tour" - and be in top shape - Wiggins has his own particular level established. "I need to be in the kind of shape that would make a podium place possible, just as [teammate] Richie [Porte] was last year and again in 2012 with Mick Rogers, Richie and Chris."
Wiggins sees one of his key roles in the Tour this July as underlining to the public that Sky were winning clean, saying that he believed he was ideally placed to battle the waves of skepticism that had in some quarters greeted some of Chris Froome's performances in last year's race. That role, he said, was something that would take him back in some ways to his roots as a track rider with British Cycling and also "help take the pressure off Chris."
He also said that the relationship between him and Froome was now good and that he was looking forward to racing with him. Long conversations in December at training camps in Mallorca - "the first time we'd been able to talk properly since Oman" - had apparently helped heal any underlying tension enormously.
Further ahead, Wiggins said that discussions with Sky about renewing his contract, which ends in 2014, have been postponed until further into the season, and that he does not rule out a return to the track in 2016 for a final ride at the Olympic Games in a velodrome. But he was certain that 2014, in any case, would not be the last year he would do road races.
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