Number 14: Bradley Wiggins
Last year’s position: 2
If you compare 2010 to 2009, then Wiggins came up short. After the superb high water mark of finishing fourth in the Tour de France, the tide went out.
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In between was the mildly controversial move from Garmin to Team Sky, a transfer that would barely have raised an eyebrow in football but which ruffled feathers in cycling.
With a million-pound sponsorship deal from a huge media organisation, Wiggins and Sky were in a tricky position. They could hardly lower expectations to a realistic level. After finishing fourth, how could they explain that a top ten finish would be an excellent result and might actually represent progress.
So the pressure was on from the start. Wiggins found himself in the same bracket as Contador, the Schlecks and the rest of the Tour favourites. Every result and performance was analysed. Form was monitored on a daily basis.
The spring was reasonable. Wiggins was third overall at the Tour of Murcia.
The first major target was the prologue at the Giro d’Italia – a wonderful day when Amsterdam was turned pink.
Wiggins won – becoming only the second British rider to wear the maglia rosa. A few years ago that alone would have been an achievement to pin an entire season on. But Team Sky did not celebrate openly. They were pragmatic and insisted they had their eyes on bigger things to come.
Wiggins’s day in pink unravelled as Team Sky went down like skittles on a crazy golf course of a parcours in Holland.
And we all know the Tour de France started poorly and got worse. It was to his credit that he carried on to the end.
Wiggins won the National Time Trial Championships again in September and ended the season with a sigh of relief.
For all the difficult moments, it should not be overlooked that Wiggins won a stage and wore the leader’s jersey at one of the grand tours.
Cycling Weekly’s Top British Riders of 2010 advent calendar: We will reveal one rider per day behind the virtual doors of our sparkly advent calendar from Wednesday December 1 to Christmas Eve, Friday December 24. The top eight will then be revealed in Cycling Weekly magazine’s final issue of the year, which will be in the shops on December 30 2010.