Wiggins compares Armstrong to Father Christmas

Bradley Wiggins stole the show at the Tour de France presentation with his blue overcoat and by revealing that he will target victory at the 2013 Giro d'Italia and be satisfied with supporting a teammate at the Tour de France.

The unconventional Tour winner also spoke about Lance Armstrong, saying he was as believable as Father Christmas.

Wiggins was the last rider to take his seat in the packed Palais de Congress in central Paris, just a kilometre from the Champs Elysees where he won the Tour de France in July. He kept his coat buttoned up but was not afraid to speak his mind.

"I'm probably going to concentrate on the Giro d'Italia next year," he told Eurosport and the media squeezed into the interview area behind the main stage.

"For me, along with Paris-Roubaix, it's the only race on the calendar that's up there with the Tour de France for its history. It's just beautiful and I'd love to win that pink jersey along with the yellow jersey."

"I'll be at the start (of the Tour de France), that's for sure. If Chris is the leader then we go for it. My priority is the Giro d'Italia. It's become apparent that it's very difficult to compete in two Grand Tours and so it's very likely I'll be there in a helping capacity.

"It was always about winning one Tour de France. I've done it and I'm very proud the way I did it. I'd love to win the Giro too. I'm a great historian of the sport and love it. I think cycling is a team sport and I wouldn't have won without that great team behind me. If I can play a part and help some one else win it, then that's what I look forward to."

Wiggins indicated but did not confirm that Chris Froome will be team leader for the Tour de France.

"Chris proved he's one of the world's best climbers," Wiggins said. "If he can get his form right, he'll be right up there. If he can recapture that form, I can't see why not."

Crashes and climbs will be a factor

Wiggins predicted the 2013 Tour de France will be a hard race, with crashes in the first week and the classic climbs of the final week again being the decisive factors.

"It's hard to gauge what the course is like by purely looking at the stage graphics, but it's going to be a tough one. The Tour's never easy and there's always something to challenge the riders," Wiggins said.

"Last year a lot of crashes happened in that first week and I think that will be very similar next year. That whole element of staying in front and not going down is going to come into play massively.

"There's a team time trial on stage four, but it's not very long, so the gaps will be very small during that first week. There are two very short time trials as well and some real classic climbing up the Alpe d'Huez and Mont Ventoux. All that means it's going to be a hard race, but these routes always look harder in October when you've put a bit of weight on and not been on the bike for a few weeks."

Father Christmas doesn't exist

When asked about the doping scandals embroiling cycling, Wiggins admitted he shared the anger shown by many fans of the sport.

"I think there's a lot of anger, like with most people in the sport," he said.

"It's a sport I love and have always loved. It's a shame that cycling is being dragged through this again. It's not a shame he's been caught. As you get older, you start to realise that Father Christmas doesn't exist. And that was always the case with Lance."

"It's a shame that the riders here now, and I think I speak for everyone on that stage, we're the ones picking up the pieces now very much, and having to convince people that the sport has changed. It's difficult, it really is, because of the precedent that has been set and ingrained for so long now. I don't have an answer to that, other than going out and continue what I'm doing."

Wiggins agreed that a full confession from Armstrong would help the sport deal with its murky past. However, he does not expect it to happen.

"I think so; definitely," he said. "But everyone knows he's a stubborn man. I don't think he's ever going to confess. He's got too much to lose for himself."

"That's the way the sport was then, you know. They were all doing what they needed to do to win the race. It was a bigger race off the bike in that sense. Now someone is expected to take the blame for that."

"It's out there now and hopefully the sport will move forward. The route has been announced today and cycling isn't like that anymore and we're the evidence of that."

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.