Cycling: Wiggins set to put Tour before Olympic hopes

British rider committed to entering next year's race even if another crash would rule him out of London 2012

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The Independent Online

Bradley Wiggins has said that he will be riding the Tour de France come what may next year, even if it puts his participation at the London Olympics at risk.

Wiggins crashed out of the Tour this year but says that he has now improved so much in three-week racing that that is a danger he is prepared to face. "I have moved up so far in this general classification thing in the Tour de France and put in so much work to go to this level that I'm not willing to give that all up for a year to go on the track in a team event where I would have to rely on three other people being as fit as I am," Wiggins said.

"That sounds quite selfish, but that is the level I've taken it to now in the Tour. The risks in the Tour could jeopardise the Olympics, but that is a risk I am willing to take. That is part of bike racing, that can happen in training, that can happen on the track."

Wiggins said it will be no holds barred at the Tour and that will be his initial priority, but that he will be targeting a seven-week period where the Tour, the Olympic time trial and then the team pursuit, in which Great Britain won gold in Beijing three years ago and took silver in Athens in 2004 with Wiggins as part of the line-up, will all be equally important goals.

The Sky sports director, Sean Yates, expressed doubts on Monday to The Independent that it would be possible to combine all three events successfully for the track riders, but Wiggins is adamant that that is his goal.

"I'm going to try and do everything," Wiggins said. "That's part of the challenge and that's what makes it so great. "But the Tour de France is the one that comes first, so that's going to be the first priority.

"I wouldn't be taking it on if I couldn't do it. But the Tour is unfinished business. The whole period will be a target, all seven weeks.

"I will do everything possible to be on form in the Tour de France. But then it will be straight into the holding camp for the Olympics.

Wiggins added it is impossible to know where he would have finished in the Tour this year had he not crashed out, but that with his condition he felt that "a top-10 place in Paris might have happened."

"If you look at the guys who finished high up, then I think I could have got up there with riders like Damiano Cunego or Ivan Basso," he claimed.

While the Tour next year will be a target, Wiggins says he will make the Tour of Spain in September and the World Championships, where he will be trying to dislodge the all-dominating Fabian Cancellara, a dress rehearsal for next summer's double whammy of the Tour and then the Olympics.

He said: "There is a similar time gap between the two it will be a practice run. It should work out OK, I don't know if I can beat [World and Olympic Champion] Cancellara, but he is up there to be shot at."

If the Olympics is presenting a summer of multiple objectives for Wiggins in 2012, it is equally possible that, if Mark Cavendish does come to Sky next year, his trade team will have more than just his general classification green jersey to aim for.

"We don't know what's going to happen yet, but we have already gone for sprints with Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas in the Tour, so I don't think there will be a conflict with Cav, either, if he does come to the team."

"And the good thing about Cav is that you know if you do go for it then it will almost certainly be a win, and that gives a morale boost to the whole team."

Wiggins himself is in good shape and back in training, although he will not be racing between now and the Tour of Spain to ensure that the metal plate that is holding his broken collarbone together from this Tour crash is not put at risk in accidents.

Looking back at when he crashed out of the Tour on the stage to Châteauroux, Wiggins said: "Crashes were always going to happen that day, no one was giving an inch in the bunch, we were all trying to get to the front. But it was very tough, there were too many riders on one piece of road."

"I saw Roman Kreuziger's handlebars crumple when he crashed just ahead of me and I tried to ride through the crash but I knew it wasn't going to happen."

He praised Sky for how they returned to the fray after his crash. "Even though they had had to wait for me, they fought back hard and did their best. With two stage wins and all those breaks, it was still a very successful Tour."

It is a sign of Wiggins' ambition at the Tour that he ignored psychiatrists advice and watched the Tour on television. Also it is equally indicative of that ambition that next year, Olympics or no Olympics, he plans to be part of it.