It clicked last year, says Team Sky's Yates
CHARTRES, France |
CHARTRES, France (Reuters) - The realisation that Briton Bradley Wiggins was a serious contender for the stage races came last year, Team Sky sports director Sean Yates said on Saturday.
Wiggins, who leads the Tour de France by three minutes 21 seconds going into Sunday's final stage, was fourth in 2009 but after joining Team Sky the next season failed to follow up on that performance when he finished only 23rd.
"It sort of clicked in the middle of last year when he was in good shape for the Tour," Yates told reporters.
"With the Dauphine (win) came the sort of realisation he can be a serious contender for stage races.
"That's no fluke but at the time it seemed to be a little bit of a one-off."
Wiggins underlined his credentials last year when he won the Criterium du Dauphine but then broke a collarbone in a crash on the seventh stage of the Tour. He came back in the Tour of Spain to finish third overall.
"The fact he came back for the Vuelta was the click point," said Yates a few metres from the huge pack of fans and reporters surrounding the team camper van.
"There is relief it's over, it's been a long three weeks since the start in Liege I've just been looking forward to having it done and dusted. It's a bit stressful," said Yates, letting the emotion sink in.
"The first week was not a great deal of fun, let's put it that way," he added, referring to the series of crashes that marred the opening week of the Tour.
"We've been working as a unit."
Wiggins, a time trial specialist who lost weight to perform better in the mountains, followed the pace in the Alps and the Pyrenees and appeared to have the title in the bag two days ago.
"He still had to ride 53 kilometres to the limit," said Yates of Saturday's time trial, which was won by the 32-year-old.
"We've seen riders have a bad day, he had to continue on his 100 percent time trial record this year."
(Editing by Alison Wildey)
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