At the start of today’s stage in Vatan, British rider Charley Wegelius expressed surprise with his form in the Tour de France and hinted that the best was yet to come from both his team leader, Cadel Evans, and the race itself.
Wegelius was signed by Silence-Lotto at the end of 2008 after three years with the Italian Liquigas team. His tenure at Liquigas had followed on from stints at De Nardi and Mapei – where he rode with Evans for the first time. However Wegelius, who has forged himself a reputation as a dogged worker and solid climber, was surprisingly left out of Silence-Lotto’s initial Tour team. He was given an eleventh hour reprieve when Tomas Dekker was dropped due to proceedings against him under the UCI's biological passport program.
"It’s going okay," said Wegelius. "There are some stages coming up where I could get in break before the mountains, but considering I’m so incredibly slow at sprinting I put my chances at winning a stage at quite low. But I think the best is yet to come from the race and also from Cadel," Wegelius told Cyclingnews. Wegelius has, incidentally, never won a road race in his nine-year professional career, despite chalking up two wins in team time trials with Liquigas.
And in spite of his last-minute call-up, Wegelius is finding the Tour easier than expected. "I am pleasantly surprised with my Tour. The fact that I didn’t know I was going to ride meant I took it quite easy in the build up. That was quite a good thing to do instead of desperately trying to train at the last minute. Maybe it played in my favour. But the key at the Tour isn’t about getting stronger, it’s about getting tired as slowly as possible" he said.
Despite the relaxed demeanour Wegelius was willing to take a pop at the cycling press. "Typically, they made a big deal that Cadel lost 36 seconds in the cross winds earlier in the race but they didn’t pick up the fact that he gained time yesterday [ed - this was eventually overturned]. The press is a being in itself," he said with a wry grin, "but the atmosphere in the team is good and we’re sticking to our plan. I don’t read the press to be honest and nor do I go online that much, as it’s just a waste of energy. I won’t talk tactics either. You can watch tactics on the television."
This is Wegelius’s first Grand Tour with a non-Italian team and he compared the experience of riding for Liguigas at the Tour to that with Silence-Lotto. "Obviously riding the Tour with Liquigas isn’t the same as riding it with Lotto or Cadel, who is the centre of attention here. I’d compare it with riding the Giro with Liquigas."