2012 Tour de France winner says his top 10 finish in the 2014 Hell of the North will provide valuable experience as he tries to win his first classic
Sir Bradley Wiggins says that the experience he gained in his ninth place finish at the 2014 Paris-Roubaix will give “invaluable experience” for the coming season’s race and that he and his team will need to “plan for all eventualities” in their bid to win the race.
Having extended his contract until the mid-season with Team Sky, Wiggins looks to be basing his last months with the team around taking victory at the Hell of the North, and the Tour de France 2012 winner concedes he was surprised about how well he performed on last year’s 257km course.
“Last year’s race got me half way, because that was the realisation that I can do it,” he told SkySports, “I was in with a chance of winning the race with 10km to go.”
“I learnt a lot from last year. It was an invaluable experience. I learnt to have a plan going into the final, because so much of the preparation is about being fit enough and looking at the cobbled sections, and then all of a sudden you find yourself in the final with a team-mate up against another team with three of four riders, so I think running through all the different scenarios in the final is possibly something we would have done differently.
“Obviously, Omega Pharma-Quick-Step had strength in numbers there, and that’s something we needed to plan for. I wasn’t expecting to be in that position in some ways, so this time we will have to plan for all eventualities.”
Wiggins was accompanied by fellow Brit, Geraint Thomas into the closing moments of the 2014 edition, who worked hard on the front of the lead group before Niki Terpstra made a successful break at around six kilometres from the line, and Wiggins believes that the Welshman has earned as much right to lead the team as he has after finishing seventh last year.
“Geraint is on the verge of winning something huge,” he said. “He has shown that potential and quality for the last few years.
“In a race like Paris-Roubaix, the ideal scenario would be for us to be in the same position we were in this year, and then it could be any one of us. The return of Ian Stannard will also be an influence.
“It could be that, on the day, Geraint is the leader. He is really targeting some big races early in the season, like Paris-Nice, so if he hits those in form, there is no reason why he won’t be leader that day.”
Wiggins has already been out to the cobbles of northern France to make a recon of the course in wet conditions in his preparation for the 2015 edition, before the 34-year-old turns his attention back to the track in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
The three-time Olympic champion has stated publicly several times that he plans to end his career with a challenge at another Olympic gold, while he’ll also join his new UCI Continental road team, ‘Team Wiggins’ at the end of April.