Number 9: Wiggins masters the Collet d’Allevard
The Alps, June
Bradley Wiggins took the leader’s jersey at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné in the time trial. The way the race had panned out, that was fairly predictable.
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What everyone was waiting for was to see how the Team Sky leader coped in the mountains, particularly after his struggle in the 2010 Tour de France.
The finish at Les Gets was straightforward enough. Wiggins finished in a group with all the other contenders.
But the Collet d’Allevard was another matter. A world-renowned photographer told Cycle Sport’s correspondent that the perceived wisdom was Wiggins would lose the jersey there.
Driving the climb on the day of the race suggested the photographer might be right. The Collet d’Allevard ranks among the harder Alpine climbs usually used as summit finishes in the Tour. It was horribly steep in places.
Wiggins also had to cope with the explosive climbers who were sure to inject bursts of pace, such as Joaquin Rodriguez and Robert Gesink. Even Alexandre Vinokourov could cause him problems.
But Wiggins knew that if he got suckered into matching those bursts of speed, he would find himself in the red.
Instead, he rode the climb like a mountain time trial. He shut out all external influences and rode at his own rhythm all the way up. Even when Rodriguez’s lead approached the minute mark he refused to panic.
It was an ultra pragmatic approach to mountain climbing but it worked. Just as Cadel Evans did at the Tour de France later in the summer, Wiggins calculated perfectly.
By the end of the stage, he was still in yellow. By comparison, the final stage to La Toussuire was easy.