Bradley Wiggins focused on himself, not the rivals

Bradley Wiggins focused on himself, not the rivals

Bradley Wiggins focused on himself, not the rivals

Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins (R) and compatriot Mark Cavendish (2R) take part in a training session on Jan 21 in Mallorca. AFP photo

Bradley Wiggins is not concerned about his main rivals as he embarks on a season in which he could win the Tour de France and an Olympic title because the Briton believes road racing is now a free for all without any clear favorites. 

Wiggins, a time trial specialist who lost just under 10 kilos to become a decent climber, said road racing was much less predictable than it used to be because young riders did not defer to the leading contenders like they used to. 

“There’s no respect in the peloton any more so it doesn’t matter who is there even if it’s the big star of our days or past winners,” Wiggins told Reuters in an interview at his team hotel on the eve of the Paris-Nice stage race on Saturday. 

“It’s not like when Lance (Armstrong) chose to come (in the early 2000’s) and nobody dared attack Lance or (his) U.S. Postal (team), now it’s just a free for all and it doesn’t matter who is in the yellow jersey. 

“It makes for exciting racing, we saw it last year with (Thomas) Voeckler (the Frenchman who led the Tour after 18 stages before finishing fourth), so at the end of the day you just concentrate on yourself. 

“Everyone just feels they can do it now the bigger riders in the peloton, on results, can’t command the same respect as 10 years ago and I think the sport has changed so much in that sense.” 

The Team Sky rider, who finished fourth in the 2009 Tour de France, has decided to skip the team pursuit at this year’s Olympics to focus on the Tour before trying his luck in the road time trial in London. 

He said the absence of Spaniard Alberto Contador, who will miss the Tour because of a doping ban that cost him his third title won in 2010, would not be a major factor. 

“I don’t think it (Contador’s absence) will make a lot of difference. At the end of the day you can’t worry about someone like Contador,” he said. “The first stage in the Pyrenees last year he got dropped (by the favorites) so you just concentrate on what you’re doing as a team and individually. 
“You can’t worry too much about if he’s there, or if Lance is there,” he added referring to the retired seven-time Tour winner. 

But Wiggins, who paid tribute to the late Tom Simpson when the Tour went up the Mont Ventoux in 2009, said younger riders should have more sense of their sport’s history. 

“I think it comes a lot from riders coming in not really knowing anything about the history of the sport, they’re just good at cycling,” he said. “They’re coming and they get told by the DS (sports director) race hard, don’t worry about who’s there and I don’t think they have any sense of history and I think that’s why there are more crashes. It’s just a free for all really.”