Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) is one step closer to a place on the final podium of the Tour de France after again riding strongly on the stage to Bourg-Saint-Maurice on Tuesday.
Andy Schleck went on the attack on the Col du Petit Saint Bernard but Wiggins was able to go after him each time and always seemed in control when riding just behind race leader Alberto Contador.
Wiggins finished 13th on the stage, 59 seconds behind winner Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), in the same time as Contador, and so is still third overall at 1-37.
He is just nine seconds behind second-placed Lance Armstrong.
“I felt fine. It was one of the easier Alpine stages,” Wiggins said calmly after the stage, clearly in control.
“Tomorrow’s another day I don’t want to get carried away. In terms of the pattern of the race, Astana controlled it pretty well and then Andy (Schleck) attacked again on the final climb. Tomorrow is a bit more of a brothel…”
Schlecks attempt to overthrow Wiggins
Andy Schleck is trying to take Wiggins’ places on the podium with the help of his brother Frank. But Wiggins knows he will gain time on him in the Annecy time trial and is letting him
“They’re lively but there’s only one of them who is, what’s the word, yeah, they’re lively,” Wiggins said.
“When Andy puts it down there’s only three or four of us that are really there. Frank got dropped today.”
Wiggins can afford to play a waiting game and after seeing Armstrong struggle when Schleck attacked. He knows that he could also topple Lance and perhaps even move to second overall.
“There’s plenty of time for that,…” he said.
“I’m just not trying to get too panicky and carried away when it’s like that. When you feel good, it’s easy to do silly things. I’ve got to keep in control really.”
Staying in control
Wiggins game plan is to keep everything in control during Wednesday’s stage to Le Grand Bornand.
It is the hardest stage of this year’s Tour de France, with five tough climbs.
The Col de Romme and the Col de la Colombiere are the final two climbs and have gradients of 8.9% and 8.5%. That is where the key selection of the stage will occur and possible decisive time gaps open.
Wiggins is confident he will be there and can keep at least third place overall.
“It’s the same as every day, just be there with the boys. It’s the same for everyone you know,” he said.
“Everyone’s got to get up them and I keep telling myself that, even when Andy’s full throttle on the climb. You try and remind yourself that you’re not the only one who’s hurting or it’s hard for.”
“When it’s like that, there’s a lot of guys who have already gone, that gives you confidence to keep going. Tomorrow won’t be any different really. Physically, I’m in good shape now, so I’ve no reason to think I won’t get through tomorrow in the same position.”
“If I’m in the same position tomorrow night that’d be fantastic. Tomorrow is another day and I don’t want to try and predict what’s going to happen but we’ll see how it goes, see how it pans out.”
Most of the overall contenders have seen the climbs on the stage. Wiggins hasn’t but that’s how he’s happy to tackle the race. One day at a time.
“I just look (at the route) one day at a time to be honest. I rip the pages out of the book each day,” he said.
“I haven’t even looked at tomorrow’s stage yet. It’s just from what people tell me about this, that and the other but I haven’t looked at it in any detail. Other people like to reconnaissance and that but it doesn’t work for me.”