Sky had several interests in the opening road stage of the race after Sunday’s prologue, with Ben Swift a possible sprint stage winner, and Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte sitting in good positions overall.
Although Wiggins himself is currently one position ahead of Porte, in 12th overall, he has no designs on winning overall as he eyes Paris-Roubaix in April and appeared happy to play the role of super-domestique. Wiggins won the 2012 edition of the race on his way to winning the Tour de France later that year in July, and so he knows it well.
Wiggins helped lead the pace in the second half of the stage, as escapees Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) were given a free rein by a dawdling peloton. However, that slackening of the pace almost backfired as the duo wound up their speed in the final 20 kilometres. They were caught, inevitably, but with just two kilometres to go.
In the subsequent frantic bunch gallop into Contres, Swift opened up his sprint early and looked good but had to swerve dramatically to the side of the road as another rider moved into his line. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) eventually took the honours, with Swift in ninth.
Wiggins himself rolled in at the back of the peloton, retaining his 12th spot overall.
After his attempt to win Paris-Roubaix on April 12, Wiggins will leave Team Sky and join the British-based outfit that bears his name: Team Wiggins. He will attempt to set a new Hour Record at some point in June at the Lee Valley Velodrome in London.