Cycling Weekly is counting down the top 30 British Riders of the Year thoughout December.
NUMBER 10: BRADLEY WIGGINS
Tour of Britain winner
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There might be a few raised eyebrows at the fact that Bradley Wiggins has made our top 10. As far as the wider sports watching public are concerned, the 2013 season was a disaster for the reigning Tour de France champion.
But if we detach ourselves from the sky-high expectations and look at Wiggins’s results, it was a very good season, particularly in the second half when he began to look like the rider who maintained such a staggeringly high and consistent level of performance last year.
Wiggins was on a hiding to nothing this year. After all, how do you top a summer that brought a Tour de France title and an Olympic gold medal?
The way to go ‘one better’ was to announce that he wanted to attempt the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double. In hindsight, it was perhaps not the smartest thing to say.
On the face of it, Wiggins’s preparation looked good. Fifth place overall in the Tour of Catalonia in March, followed by fifth place in the Giro del Trentino, the traditional warm-up race for the Giro, suggested he was on track.
But the rumble behind the scenes was that the training plan had not been followed as rigorously as it had been in 2012. The pressure of staying on professional cycling’s treadmill for almost 18 months had begun to take its toll. Physically, Wiggins was a bit off where he should have been.
After a good start – Sky won the opening team time trial – the Giro unravelled spectacularly. In poor weather conditions Wiggins never looked truly comfortable and there were rumours he was getting sick. He was defeated by Alex Dowsett in the long time trial and as the days went on and the conditions worsened, Wiggins lost his confidence on the descents and looked like a shadow of his former self. In the end, the sensible thing was to pull out.
Then came the announcement that a knee injury would keep him out of the Tour de France, which denied him the chance to wear number one and defend his title.
Over the summer, Wiggins regained his fitness and focused on new goals; his new targets being the Tour of Britain and the World Championship time trial.
On the way, he won the time trial at the Tour of Poland – his only WorldTour win of the season – and then cruised through the Tour of Britain with the help of a flawless Team Sky performance. At the World Championships in Florence, Tony Martin of Germany was unbeatable, so Wiggins’s runner-up performance cannot be considered a failure.
It’s easy to forget that five or six years ago, a season with the results Wiggins has enjoyed this year would have been hailed as one of the best ever; reason to celebrate, not denigrate.
British Riders of the Year 2013: Related links