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.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
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

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little