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.

Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
scienceBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

M&E Construction Planner Solihull

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Car, Healthcare, Pensions: Progressive Recruitment...

Senior Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Leading Sof...

Chemistry Teacher

£90 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried