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.

Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments