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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

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
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform