Bradley Wiggins says he had not considered the significance of the Tour of Qatar’s 10-kilometre time trial on Tuesday, the first of possibly two occasions this year on which he’ll wear the World Champion’s rainbow jersey, until recently.
Wiggins starts his 2015 season tomorrow in the middle east, with stage three’s pan-flat course in Lusail the Team Sky rider’s biggest objective of the week.
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Nonetheless, he admitted that it wasn’t until his 2015 race kit turned up that his Worlds win in Ponferrada, Spain last September dawned on him.
“I haven’t really thought about it – I forgot about a lot of it, to be honest,” he said. “It was the last race of the season, I was straight out of there, then after a week or two you forget about it.
“My kit turned up in January, and I had all normal skinsuits in my case. I rang the team to ask if they’d forgotten – I said ‘are you aware I’m world champion, and if not, can I at least have a British champion’s skinsuit?’.
“The world champion’s skinsuit turned up in the post last Wednesday, which was a little reminder – I hadn’t seen anything or had any training jerseys with the stripes on before then, so it will be nice to be able to wear that in a few races before April.”
Race rules forbid riders using time trial bikes for the stage against the clock, which throws a slight curveball into proceedings.
“I can’t remember the last time I did an individual time trial on a road bike, so it’s hard to predict what people will do,” Wiggins added.
“However, I just want to put myself in the best position possible to do the best ride and see what happens. From that, if that lands me in a half decent GC spot, then I’ll try and defend it.”
Given the race’s famed crosswinds, the 34-year-old added that starting his season in Qatar is the perfect preparation for his assault on Paris-Roubaix on April 12, which is likely to be his final race for Sky.
Wiggins said: “I said that I wouldn’t just come here and get the training in. It’s about looking further down the line.
“I had a hard couple of weeks training in Majorca and then I sorted of backed off a bit last week because I wanted to feel a bit fresh in order to put myself in the best possible position here, really. It’s no fun coming here tired and I’ve done that before.”
Paris-Nice, the race he won in 2012, is likely to be Wiggins’s other opportunity to wear the rainbow stripes before he leaves Sky for his new team that bears his surname. That event [March 8-15] both starts and finishes with an individual time trial.
“I can see the end. I get parole in April, I’m happy about that,” he said of his departure from Sky. “It’s going into a new chapter in my life, with the Hour Record and everything. The pressure of the Tour, and weight loss, is a nice burden not to have to worry about any more.”