Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is hoping to end the Giro d'Italia as he started it, with a victory in the 15km time trial stage around Verona this afternoon. But whatever happens, he will head home satisfied with his performance over the three weeks of the Giro, knowing that he is on track to be at his very best for the Tour de France.
Wiggins won the opening time trial in Amsterdam and is the big favourite to be the fastest around the hills north of Verona and into the Roman arena, where Francesco Moser snatched the pink jersey from Laurent Fignon in 1984.
Last year Wiggins targeted the final time trial of the Giro in Rome but was penalised by a rain shower that eventual winner Ignatas Konovalovas (Cervelo TestTeam) was lucky to avoid.
"My goal for the Giro was to win the opening time trial and then test myself in the mountain stages and hopefully have a go at the final time trial. Whatever happens in the time trial, win or lose, I'll be happy,' Wiggins told Cyclingnews.
"I'll have a good go in the time trial. I've tried to do as little as possible in the last couple of days thinking about the time trial but final time trials are always strange. It's going to be about who is the least tired. The GC guys will be going for it too but I'll give it a good shot."
Wiggins will end the Giro in around 40th place more than an hour and 30 minutes down on Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo). He had hoped to do better and could have tried to do better but knows he has to save himself for the Tour de France if he wants to ride consistently well in July.
"There's a tinge of disappointment that I was high up on GC but then slipped back. It's quite difficult to pull yourself out of it when you're high up like that but I had to do it," he said.
"It was a harder Giro than last year. And in hindsight, when you realistically look at how hard the last week was, it would have been difficult to fight for top ten."
"There's no way I could have gone as deep as Basso, and as especially as Cadel has, and still be good a the Tour. They've got more experience of all this than I have. Our plan has always been about one peak in the season, which is the Tour, and I'll get down to my best weight for that because I can't sustain it for that long."
"This was a big goal for both Cadel and Ivan and we'll see if they can find another similar peak of form in a few weeks time. It won't be easy for them."
"Don’t get me wrong, the Giro is a great race but it will always be a bit beyond me in terms of the gradients of the climbs. It's a different type of climbing. The unpredictability of the Giro also makes it unique."
Recovering and training for the Tour
Wiggins will head back to Britain after the Giro and begin to focus on the Tour de France. He will take part in a family Sky ride next Sunday but then spend ten days in Girona, Spain and a few days at a mountain reconnaissance camp in the Pyrenees.
"Last year when I rested up and recovered, the physical benefits of the Giro took me to another level and I went on to get fourth in the Tour. I'm finishing the Giro healthily and in good shape, so I'm hopeful I'll feel the same benefits." he told Cyclingnews.
"This year I now know very clearly what I've got to do in the next five weeks to prepare for the Tour de France, so I'm pretty excited. I'm where I want to be."