This season Bradley Wiggins has won overall honors in both Paris-Nice and the Tour of Romandie. British cycling fans are now officially terrified. Slow down, Bradley, slow down for Godsakes!
What’s they’re so scared about is that Wiggins as done too much too soon in his build up to winning the 2012 Tour de France. In essence, his form, confidence and leadership are all so high that perhaps he can only go down. This also makes British fans even more nervous about Wiggins crashing out of Le Tour.
Right now, Wiggins has vaulted to the top of the Tour contender list, the only rider actually posting results on the way to Liege. He’s riding with exceptional confidence and total command of a powerful Sky squad. While the Brothers Schleck are back at “square one” and Cadel Evans is feeling “disappointed”, Wiggins is flying.
The list of potential rivals drops off fast after Evans and Schleck. Denis Menchov hasn’t managed much this season, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskadi) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) can’t time trial. Tony Martin is the world champion against the clock but he just resumed training after being hit by a car.
In a Tour with over 100 kilometers in time trailing, Evans and Wiggins are in a class of their own. But when you factor in team strength, the battle tips in Wiggins’s favor. While Evans hopes to count on young Tejay Van Garderen in the Alps and Pyrenees, Sky will bring Richie Porte and Chris Froome and perhaps Michael Rodgers to give Wiggins a hand. BMC will have both Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd, but they can’t begin to mach that kind of firepower in the mountains.
Everything has gone perfectly for Wiggins so far this season. His build-up couldn’t be more ideal, his confidence couldn’t be higher, his team couldn’t be much stronger. Anybody who listened to Wiggins’ press conference at the midway point in Romandie saw a rider so relaxed and self-assured it was, well, scary.
No wonder everybody in England is excited and terrified.