Cycling: Can Bradley Wiggins win the 2013 Tour de France?

It is very hard to win both Giro and Tour so Brit’s chances in France depend on how he copes in Italy

This autumn, when I asked Alberto Contador - cycling’s top stage racer of this generation and a double Tour winner -  about what he made of Bradley Wiggins' chances of repeating his 2012 victory in 2013, he looked shocked. But probably only because I had even bothered to ask.

“He [Wiggins] is going to be a clear candidate for the win,” was his answer. Simple as that.

At this point in time, before all the imponderables of every rider’s Tour build-up kick in - and they range from illness and injury to training crashes to miscalculations about hitting peak condition - it’s hard to disagree with Contador. A quick glance back at 2012‘s Tour confirms that. Wiggins was never out of the top two overall in the whole three weeks, and from the moment the first big climb at the Planche des Belles Filles saw the Londoner take yellow, the Tour was his to lose.

Arguably, the planets lined up for Wiggins - the route was very favourable to his time trialling strengths; no unexpected rivals in enemy teams emerged; his team were almost uniformly on top of their game. But Wiggins own contribution was what the essential ingredient in Sky’s recipe for Tour success - from his ability to handle the pressure (on and off the bike) to maintaining a consistency of form throughout (from February onwards, lest we forget) to  playing a sound, if somewhat monotonous, strategic game.

All of these factors, reinforced with the experience of winning the 2012 race, could well be in Wiggins individual favour again in 2013. Yes, the route will be a lot tougher, as will some of his rivals (the return of Contador is probably the most important) and Wiggins will be 33, older than many past Tour winners. But on the plus side, there is the extra confidence that having won the race once so resoundingly and knowing how to do it, will bring both the Londoner and Team Sky.

Far too much has been made too soon about whether Wiggins and Froome can act as joint leaders in the Tour de France. It’s true that Froome’s impulsive attacks when Wiggins was leading last summer were one of the very few moments of the Tour when Sky’s plans seemed potentially awry. On top of that, the pressure cooker atmosphere of the summer recedes and Wiggins old motivation to win the Tour returns, Wiggins switches of plan this winter from becoming Britain’s first Giro winner to a possible Giro-Tour double have provided extra fuel to this debate. But at this point in time it’s a wholly artificial one.

In fact, probably the single biggest controllable factor concerning Wiggins' chances of winning the  2013 Tour is not Froome or Contador, it’s his decision to race the 2013 Giro d’Italia - and at no point has the Londoner said that trying to become Britain’s first ever winner of cycling’s second biggest stage race is going to be shelved.

To ‘do the double’ and take Giro and Tour is an extraordinarily difficult ask - the last rider to succeed was Marco Pantani in 1998. Contador failed in 2011 (winning the Giro, but finishing fifth in the Tour, prior to losing both results because of a retro-active doping sanction); 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans failed in 2010;  Giro winner Denis Menchov failed in 2009.

For Wiggins, 2013 will be something of a voyage in the dark. But 'the double' has been done before. And in 2011, after building up for the Tour so well and then crashing out, he bounced back in style at the Vuelta, taking third. But realistically, how much the Giro will take out of Wiggins physically and mentally, and how much it may eat into his chances of a second Tour victory, will only first become clear as the curtain falls on the race in Brescia on May 26th next year.

As Contador put it to me about Wiggins, “you don’t win the Tour by chance.” And Wiggins certainly didn’t. All things being equal, though, the first real indication of whether Wiggins can win it again will come over a month earlier than the Tour’s start in Corsica on June 27th - in Italy.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there