Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky pulled off a second magnificent victory in as many months yesterday when the 31-year-old – already the winner of Paris-Nice this spring – netted the almost equally prestigious Tour of Romandie.
Just like Paris-Nice, Romandie came down to the final time-trial on the final day's racing, won yesterday by Wiggins by less than a second over the highly promising young American professional, Andrew Talansky.
Not even a mechanical incident, when his chain slipped on the difficult Aminona ascent, could throw Wiggins off the pace yesterday in the Swiss ski resort of Crans-Montana as he surged to his second stage victory in Romandie this week and a first-ever overall British win in the 72-year-old race.
So exhausted he could not even get off his bike at the finish and lay slumped on the ground for several minutes, on a personal level Wiggins' victory represents another major confidence boost for the triple Olympic gold medallist. But in terms of the history books, and Team Sky's all-round improvement in form, it is equally significant.
To give the idea of how big a glass ceiling Wiggins victory yesterday has shattered, veteran Sky director Sean Yates pointed out that the last British winner in Crans-Montana was the Scottish great Robert Millar back in 1984. As for Sky's collective performance – three stage wins, three riders in the top five and leading the race for four of its six days – Great Britain has never before had a cycling squad consistently putting in such dominating rides.
"It was an outstanding ride, and in fact if you dissected each individual's performance in their respective segments of the race, it was top-notch," Yates said. "Nobody was gifting us anything by any stretch of the imagination. We had a British team laying down the law at cycling's top level, and you couldn't ask for anything better than that."
"I can't thank them enough, they have ridden brilliantly all week, and I wouldn't have won without them," Wiggins added.
"You know you're in a great team when you have a world champion (in the shape of Mark Cavendish) riding on the front for you."
Cavendish and Geraint Thomas both abandoned on Saturday but Yates paid tribute to their role in the victory.
"They rode for 55 kilometres into a block 60kmh headwind up a valley all the way to Crans-Montana to make sure a dangerous break didn't get more than two minutes. They made sure we kept the race under control."
Whilst Cavendish and Thomas will both be racing in the Giro d'Italia, starting Saturday, Wiggins will continue to build towards his twin targets of the Tour and Olympics this summer. But with two major wins already this season in Paris-Nice and Romandie, the Briton – and Team Sky – are clearly already firing on all cylinders.