Britain’s Wiggins wins in the Alps

Britain’s Wiggins wins in the Alps

CHATEL, France - The Associated Press
Britain’s Wiggins wins in the Alps

Britain’s Bradley Wiggins celebrates after winning the Dauphine Criterium. AFP photo

British rider Bradley Wiggins cemented his status as a Tour de France favorite yesterday, winning the Criterium du Dauphine race in the French Alps for the second straight year.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist successfully defended his title in the mountainous week-long stage race, finishing 1 minute, 17 seconds ahead of Sky teammate Michael Rogers of Australia. Tour de France champion Cadel Evans finished third, 1:26 behind Wiggins.

Wiggins said he was “not the favorite, but one of the favorites” for the upcoming Tour de France.

“It’s a big win,” Wiggins said. “Everyone talks a lot about the Tour de France, but winning Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine in the same year, that’s huge. So whatever happens on the Tour, I can already be satisfied.” Spanish rider Daniel Moreno won the 124.5-kilometer (77-mile) seventh stage from Morzine to Chatel after making a late attack on the final climb. Luis Leon Sanchez of Spain and Evans were next.

Wiggins captured the race leader’s yellow jersey in the first stage on June 4 and never relinquished it. He also won one stage along the way, dominating the 53.5-kilometer Stage 4 time trial.

The Dauphine is considered a warm-up race for the Tour de France, which begins June 30 in Liege, Belgium.

Wiggins, who crashed out of the 2011 Tour de France, will start as one of the race’s top favorites after winning three of this year’s hardest stage races, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, and the Dauphine.