Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Wiggins) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) are taking part in the 2016 Amgen Tour of California following a training camp at Big Bear with their prospective Great Britain Olympic team-mates.
Wiggins, who won the 2014 edition of the race overall, played down his chances in the event, noting in the pre-race press conference that this is only his second road race of the season so far and that he had not touched his time trial bike for over a year.
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“I haven’t done a time trial for 14 months,” said Wiggins. “I just pulled the bike out of the garage to check what chainring is on it.
“We’ll see. I don’t know. Twelve kilos is a lot to be carrying around. It’s like a carrying a small baby on your back,” said Wiggins of the weight he’s gained to improve his power in the velodrome.
“It’s nice to be back at the race more than anything. We’ll roll the sleeves and shorts up, work on the tan and then go back to the UK,” joked Wiggins.
Cavendish returns to the race after scoring four stage wins last year. He is currently second to 2015 overall winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in terms of California stage victories. Sagan is now on 14 after winning the 2016 opener, with Cavendish on nine.
Cavendish missed out on contesting the stage one sprint after getting boxed in during the scrappy finale. Then on stage two, Ben King (Cannondale) took the win from an escape group.
Both Cavendish and Wiggins had been dropped on one of the stage’s climbs earlier in the day, and rolled home 15 minutes and 30 seconds behind King. Wiggins is now 135th overall and Cavendish 128th.
Cavendish has his eye on the final stage of the race in Sacramento, which should end in a bunch sprint.
“I’ve won three times in Sacramento,” said Cavendish, “so it’ll be a great initiative to get to Sacramento and try and win again there.”
Dimension Data are backing South African Jacques Janse van Rensburg as their overall contender.
Neither Wiggins or Cavendish are likely to feature in the top order at the end of Tuesday’s stage three, which includes an ascent to the finish line on Gibraltar Road. It’ll be a day for the GC contenders and climbers.
King currently leads the race by eight seconds over fellow American Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling). The race concludes on Sunday, May 22.
Wiggins is one of the front-runners for selection to ride in the team pursuit for GB at the Rio Olympics, and Cavendish is aiming to ride in the omnium.