Bradley Wiggins was busy making his team-mates suffer last week in Girona as Garmin-Slipstream put the finishing touches to their team time trial preparations ahead of the Giro d?Italia opening stage in Venice on Saturday.
The two days spent focusing on the discipline were aimed at replicating last year?s surprise win in Palermo that put Slipstream?s Christian Vande Velde in the maglia rosa ? the first American to wear the pink jersey since Andy Hampsten in 1988.
Now Wiggins and fellow Garmin Brit David Millar stand a very good chance of exchanging Argyle jerseys for pink at the weekend.
Wiggins appeared in fine form during the first day?s series of drills run off at 55kph using TT bikes, with skinsuits and disc wheels being reserved for the following day?s full speed training.
The Olympic pursuit champion?s turn of speed was actually causing a few problems on the first couple of runs, as Wiggins unintentionally ? we think ? lifted the pace every time he hit the front of the nine-man string. American Tom Danielson, the unfortunate rider charged with preceding the lanky powerhouse, was getting a rough ride.
As Garmin?s sports physiologist Allen Lim explained: ?In front of the strongest rider is always the hardest position. When he pulls off, the strong guy will bring up the speed. He is already spent, and coming back and trying to get on. Getting on is actually harder than pulling. Your pull is not over until you get back on, so you don?t want to be constantly accelerating.?
Did Wiggins? previous team, Columbia, put the same level of preparation into team time trials? ?Not really, no,? said Wiggins having finished the final run of the day and smoothed out the speed variations.
?Cofidis did to a certain extent, but half-hearted really. They tried, bless ?em, but they didn?t really know what they were doing. But this team is obviously run by people who are used to do it. There is a lot more experience here. It is our first objective, really, so we have put a lot into it.”
Team boss Jonathan Vaughters plans to lead off with the Brit in Venice. ?I think we will start with Wiggo,? he said.
?He will start out smooth and bring it up to speed ? 58 or 60kph ? then by the time he swings off, everyone has settled in and relaxed, ready to start equalling the speed he has set.?
The secret for a consistent speed, according to Vaughters, is to vary the length of time spent on the front, with the stronger riders spending up to 45 seconds at the head of the line. Wiggins can look forward to some long pulls on Saturday.
?We want to hurt Wiggins, so that by the end of the time trial he has been brought down to everyone else?s level!? he said.