Wiggins shows promise in Dauphine win

Bradley Wiggins underlined his credentials as one the Tour de France favourites by beating several of his main rivals in the Criterium du Dauphine.

Team Sky rider Wiggins, who grew up in Maida Vale, finished one minute 26 seconds ahead of last year’s Tour winner, Australian Cadel Evans, in the seven-stage race around the Alps.

“The Tour de France is on the horizon. It’s a lot more complicated as a race but we’re where we want to be, in a good position and looking forward to it,” said Team Sky’s race manager Sean Yates.

“Going in as one of the favourites is going to be a lot of hard work.”

Wiggins took the leader’s yellow jersey in the Dauphine on stage two last week but was particularly impressive in winning Thursday’s 53.6km individual time trial.

His team stood strong in allowing Evans to regain just eight seconds in Saturday’s stage, which included three large climbs.

However Wiggins, 32, will know that the last man to win the Dauphine and the Tour in the same year was Lance Armstrong in 2003.

German veteran Jens Voigt, a team-mate of Wiggins’ Tour rival Andy Schleck, tweeted on Thursday: “No need to get afraid of Bradley. As far as I experienced it, the Dauphine winner never ever won the Tour.”

Having finished fourth overall in the Tour in 2009 – equalling the best ever finish by a British rider – Wiggins has struggled to match that performance since but this season he has has focused very clearly on preparing for that one race.

He won the Criterium du Dauphine last year and was expected to perform well in the Tour which followed, but fell and broke his collarbone early in the race.

This victory is his third this season in short stage races, following the Paris-Nice race and the Tour de Romandie.

Wiggins’ team showed their depth, with Australian Michael Rogers finishing second overall and Brit Chris Froome four, while sprinter Edvald Boasson Hagen took a stage win.

“It’s probably gone better than the other races have gone this season; it’s been a lot smoother,” Wiggins said.

“Obviously everyone is getting ready for the Tour now. We had our strong guys here and Eddy’s back in this group and he’s made a huge difference this week.

“It’s certainly getting easier each time, not in terms of the effort but in terms of staying cool at the right moments and knowing what to do and when to do it.”

The Tour de France begins in the Belgian city of Liège on 30 June and concludes in Paris on 22 July after three weeks of racing, including three mountain finishes and a potentially crucial time trial into Chartres on the penultimate day.

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