Cycling: Wiggins in pole position to reach road milestone


Bradley Wiggins will battle for his biggest road victory today, when he has an excellent chance of becoming Britain's first winner of the hugely prestigious Paris-Nice stage race in nearly half a century.

The last hurdle between Wiggins and victory in the race dubbed the "mini-Tour de France" is today's 9.8 kilometre individual uphill time trial, running from the grimy outer suburbs of Nice, at near sea level, to the summit of the Col D'Eze, 1,500 feet higher.

The 31-year-old Team Sky leader has a minimal advantage in the overall classification, just six seconds on Lieuwe Westra of Holland and 18 seconds on Spain's Alejandro Valverde. Like Wiggins, the Dutchman is also a gifted time triallist, and Valverde cannot be ruled out either, but Wiggins has kept a tight grip on the race for the last six days, and there is every chance he will do so again today.

Already a triple Olympic gold medallist on the track, a Paris-Nice victory would be a major landmark in Wiggins' career on the road. For many, it would outshine other high points like his Critérium du Dauphiné stage race win last June – his previous most important step up the ladder of week-long stage racing – or even his Giro d'Italia prologue win in 2010.

Donning the final yellow jersey in Paris-Nice would also firmly establish Wiggins as Britain's leading stage racer, in terms of capturing the overall classification, in the last two decades. First Chris Boardman, the winner of three Tour prologues and third in Paris-Nice in 1995, and then David Millar have taken stage wins in all three Grand Tours and shone in week-long events like Paris-Nice and the Critérium Du Dauphiné. And, of course, Mark Cavendish is on his way to becoming cycling's greatest ever sprinter.

However, when it comes to the overall classification only Robert Millar in the 1980s – whose fourth place in the Tour de France, the best result ever for a Briton which Wiggins equalled in 2009 – has a more impressive track record. And Wiggins, as he has demonstrated all this week, is far from reaching his limit.

Yesterday's 219km stage, won by Belgium's Thomas De Gendt was incident-free for Wiggins, who finished safely in the main pack. One of the Sky rider's rivals, American Levi Leipheimer, could not say the same, crashing three times and losing all option of winning the event outright.

If Wiggins is looking for inspiration as he grinds up the switchback of hairpins to the summit of Col D'Eze, there is a strong chance Wiggins will have Tom Simpson, the last British winner of Paris-Nice, in 1967, in mind. In 2009, when Wiggins rode up the Mont Ventoux en route to fourth in Paris, he had a picture of Simpson glued to his bike frame, saying the night before: "I know Tom will be watching over me." Paris-Nice was Simpson's last great victory before he died, and for Wiggins to attempt to follow in the Briton's ghostly wheeltracks nearly half a century later is a challenge he is sure to relish.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas