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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Classic Colnago steel frame with gorgeous pantographed Campagnolo components
Bradle Wiggins (Sky) awaits the start of stage five.
Corsa Rosa is key dress rehearsal for the Tour de France
Bradley Wiggins will use the Giro d'Italia as a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France but he is targeting the opening time trial in Amsterdam, wants to wear the maglia rosa and hopes Team Sky can show their combined strength by winning the team time trial next Wednesday.
Wiggins first discovered he could be an overall contender in Grand Tours at the 2009 Giro d'Italia. He was able to climb with the overall contenders in the Dolomites but then gave up hopes of strong overall performance to save himself for the Tour de France.
He went on to finish fourth in the Tour, becoming the revelation of the race. He is hoping to follow a similarly successful plan this season as Grand Tour leader at Team Sky.
"I'd love to have a crack at the GC at the Giro and I may end up in a position where it will be difficult to come out. But I also don’t want to get too carried away and be at my best for the Giro and then be tired at the Tour. The last week is brutal and you could finish your season if you chase something too hard," he said.
"My goal is to win a stage, wear the pink jersey for a few days and go shoulder to shoulder with the overall contenders in the big mountains. But there will come a point, where I'll shut it off. If I'm in pink or close to pink I won't do that out of respect for the race but there will be a stage when I pull myself out of the GC because I don't want to keep chasing something that will damage me for July. I'm not at the weight I was last July for the Tour de France. I'm still a kilo over and that makes a lot of a difference during a three-week race. We've done that purposely."
Wiggins' final build-up for the Giro has been exactly the same as it will be for the Tour de France. He is perhaps the favourite for the Amsterdam time trial on Saturday and would love to pull on the pink jersey.
"The first week is like a mini dress rehearsal for the Tour de France. My final build-up is the same, the time trial in Amsterdam is the same length and style to the Tour. The first two days are similar with possible crosswinds. It's a perfect dress rehearsal."
"I'll be full on that first week. I will try and win the time trial and get the pink jersey, just like I will at the Tour de France. The first few stages, it will be about being attentive and safe. If we haven't got the jersey, we'll try and take in the team time trial and then defend it. It's an important first week for all of us."
Most Tour de France contenders prefer to ride either the Dauphine Libere or the Tour de Suisse, but Wiggins knows the Giro can give him three weeks of quality racing in a country he loves to race in.
"It was superb for me last year and worked perfectly. It's impossible to replicate that workload at home and the Giro forces you to do it but in a controlled environment. I've only be going at this Grand Tour business for a year. If I ride the Dauphine Libere, I'd probably be tempted to go all-out to get a result to prove I'm on track."
Riding the Giro "worked for Lance last year. He was 12th and then came really good at the Tour de France. I hope it will work again for me too."