Cycling: Sir Bradley Wiggins preparing for start of the Giro d'Italia

The Tour de France winner has placed his focus on this race which begins in Naples tomorrow

Sir Bradley Wiggins will begin his bid to cement his legendary status with victory in the Giro d'Italia, which begins in Naples tomorrow.

Ten years after making his Grand Tour debut at the Tour of Italy, Wiggins is the favourite for the pink jersey awarded to the race winner as he bids to add the Giro title to his 2012 Tour de France triumph.

"Ten years ago I was about to start my first Grand Tour," Wiggins said.

"It was daunting and it was a different era. The likes of (Mario) Cipollini were riding, (Marco) Pantani.

"Ten years on to be going there to try to win the thing, I'd never have imagined that 10 years ago. It seemed so hard at the time. It's worlds apart.

"It's just a new challenge. I won the Tour last year and a lot of other races.

"I've never won the Giro. It's something I'd love to add to my palmares [cycling CV] when I retire.

"I think it puts you into a different bracket of cyclist."

The mention of Pantani prompts discussion of the double - an attempt at victory in the Giro and Tour in the same year.

Few have done it - seven, in fact, including Ireland's Stephen Roche in 1987 - with Italian Pantani, whose life came to such a tragic end, the most recent to have achieved the feat, in 1998.

Wiggins' stated aim is to win the Giro's maglia rosa, then travel to Corsica five weeks later to begin the defence of the Tour's yellow jersey - a subject which has sparked much conjecture this week, given his Team Sky colleague Chris Froome is also targeting the maillot jaune.

First Wiggins must win the Giro, which is no easy task on a 3,400-kilometre route, where his rivals include defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who was third behind Wiggins and Froome at the 2012 Tour.

Wiggins admits anything less than victory will be unsatisfactory.

"There will be an element of disappointment if I don't do it, because I've been building to this," the 33-year-old Londoner said.

"Two years ago I would never have even imagined trying to win the Giro, because it was always about trying to win the Tour, or get on the podium at the Tour.

"At the moment all the focus is on the Giro and you really don't think about the Tour until you get that hurdle out of the way first before we start worrying about the second.

"The main thing is to win the Giro. That's the first big hurdle. At this stage, I don't look beyond that. It's like the first gold in the Olympics."

Four-time Olympic champion Wiggins believes Nibali is the favourite, but will not discount any of his challengers.

"When you race in the mountains and people are at their limits, you see what people are capable of," Wiggins said.

"You're up close and personal a lot of the time in bike racing. You really do see everything.

"Vincenzo I know his strengths and weaknesses as he probably knows mine, or thinks he does.

"This race is more suited to him and it's his pride and joy. There's a lot of stake for him.

"He's the big Italian favourite and he's trained for this, this is his event. He's not doing the Tour after it - this is his one big event.

"I think he's in better shape than he's ever been, definitely. And he's got everything, all the attributes.

"I don't fear him, I respect him. I know his strengths and I know his weaknesses. I won't underestimate him.

"I think he's the man to beat."

Canadian Hesjedal is the defending champion and another Wiggins will not discount.

"None of them I underestimate, but Hesjedal in particular," Wiggins said.

While Wiggins' target is the maglia rosa in Brescia on May 26, his former Team Sky colleague Mark Cavendish could take the first pink jersey of the race in Naples tomorrow.

The prolific sprinter will lead Omega Pharma-QuickStep at the Giro, with stage wins and the points classification the aim.

The second day features a team time-trial, which could see the lead change hands, before a bumpy first week and the first long time-trial on the second Saturday.

"It's less predictable than the Tour, the pattern of racing," said Wiggins, who has been working on his climbing, given the severity of the Italian mountain slopes.

"The challenges come a lot earlier in the race. You don't get that traditional one week of sprint stages.

"There's no time to roll in to the finish. Right until the last Saturday it's win or lose. Right to the death."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?