Tour de France: Can Wiggins take it to the next stage?
Bradley Wiggins has proved he has solid Tour de France form, with three major stage-race wins this season at Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné, writes Alasdair Fotheringham. So what are his next 10 steps to Tour glory, Britain's first-ever podium finish – and perhaps the yellow jersey?
Stay near the front
Wiggins admitted that drifting out of the front places during the Tour's fraught first week of crashes and bunch sprints was his biggest mistake last year. He was well to the rear when he came down and broke his collarbone.
The Planche des Belles Filles is the steepest single-summit finish and it comes early this year, on stage seven. Rearing up like a side of a house for 5.9km, this kind of finale, with sudden uphill accelerations where positioning is crucial, is one of Wiggins's weakest suits. It's one of arch-rival Cadel Evans's strongest.
The knock-out blow?
As a time trial specialist, Wiggins's first big chance to inflict damage is at stage nine's Besançon/Arc-et-Senans time trial. If he performs like his idol Miguel Indurain in Luxembourg's 1992 time trial, it could be where Wiggins takes an impregnable advantage.
It has been proven that the Tour is won and lost off the bike, and the riders' recovery starts the moment they finish. Sky have taken this to a new level with special mattresses and mood music and lighting for the team bus.
Beware of ambushes
Two thirds of the way through stage 10's trek through the Jura mountain range is the 17.4km Col du Grand Colombier, a climb that has never been tackled in the Tour before. It's a chance for the mountain specialists to ambush all-rounders such as Wiggins.
Make the running
The biggest Alpine stage of the Tour culminates with an 18.5km ascent to La Toussuire ski station. Wiggins knows this climb well, it's where he defended his lead in the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011 – his first major stage-race victory.
Mind the gap
Cadel Evans has already managed to drop Wiggins on a Tour-like descent this year, off Joux Plane in the Critérium. The champion will test the Briton's technical ability on one or two plummeting drops in the Alps and Pyrenees.
Jokers in the pack
In recent years every Grand Tour has seen outsiders make a serious challenge – Ryder Hesjedal and Thomas de Gendt in the 2012 Tour of Italy (first and third), Chris Froome in the 2011 Tour of Spain (second) and Thomas Voeckler in the 2011 Tour de France (fourth).
Team Sky on a high
There is strength in depth with climbers such as Froome, Richie Porte and Kanstantsin Siutsou as Wiggins's key wingmen for the mountains, not to mention all-rounder Edvald Boasson Hagen. World champion Mark Cavendish merely adds to a top-class mix.
Crunch Time: Stage 19
The Bonneval–Chartres 53km time trial is the final overall challenge, and for Wiggins the most important. If he's behind the mountain riders he can expect to regain two or three minutes and snatch yellow, just as Cadel Evans did last year against Andy Schleck.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
From rainforests and reefs to beaches and boat trips
The Silicon Valley awards which treat scientists like rockstars
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
Latest in Sport
World Cup 2014: Football Manager developers predict the team of the tournament - but which England player makes it into the XI?
Transfer news: Manchester United step up chase for Internazionale midfielder Fredy Guarin - reports
Manchester City should have known rules in Bayern Munich match, says Rafa Benitez
Ashes 2013-14: Bowlers go short to let Aussies off the hook again
Champions League last 16 draw 2013: Who could Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United meet?
- 1 Italian court annuls prison sentence for elderly paedophile after 11-year-old victim tells investigators in Catanzaro that she loves him
- 2 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 3 Woman who miscarried in private prison 'made to clean up after herself,' court told
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
£24000 - £24250 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£800 - £875 per day: Harrington Starr: Programme Manager, (OTC Trading, CMMI, ...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Year 3/4 teacher (2 terms)Rand...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: KS2 Primary TeacherRandstad Ed...