Sky's Bradley Wiggins ended the first Pyrenees stage today in Ax 3 Domaines upset with his Tour de France performance. He cleaned himself at the team bus and then spoke frankly with the press.
"To be honest with you, I am f**ked, mate. It is as simple as that, I ain't going to lie to you," explained Wiggins. "I am just trying my hardest, battling on. Rather than give up."
The first day in the Pyrenees included the two high-mountain climbs. Wiggins lost time on the first and never recovered for the second to the finish in Ax 3 Domaines.
Wiggins finished nearly five minutes behind winner Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) and, more importantly, 3'51" behind overall leader Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank). He now sits 18th overall, 11'30" back, with three more mountain stages to come and a long time trial.
Expectations were high for Wiggins after he finished fourth overall last year behind Alberto Contador. Pressure mounted when he switched from Garmin to join and lead the British-based Team Sky.
"It is a huge learning curve, my first year where I really tackled it full-on like this," Wiggins continued. "Last year was a bit of fluke. It is easy to think you can get it right this year."
The mountains continue tomorrow with a stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon, which contains three high-mountain climbs. Sky may continue to support Thomas Löfkvist, who had his freedom to ride ahead today instead of remaining with Wiggins.
Löfkvist said that Sky had given him his freedom today in case Wiggins had a bad day. He finished 2'29" ahead of Wiggins and is now 16th overall at 9'46" back.
"This year, Brad is not physically in that front group. It is as simple as that. You either got it or you haven't," said Sky team manager David Brailsford.
"We always said he was going to commit 100 per cent. If that is good enough for the win, great, or for 10th, great."
Wiggins agreed, despite being upset.
"I am not giving up on anything," added Wiggins. "I will just keep pushing on and do my best, and see where that is in Paris."
He said on the rest day six days ago that his aim was for a top 10.
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Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban
Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks
Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour
Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race
Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day
Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head
Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour's white
Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up
Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour
Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims
Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC
Stage three live coverage: As it happened
Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa
Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Stage 13 photo gallery
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Tour 2010 wallpaper
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Videos
Stage 13 video highlights
Stage 12 video highlights
Stage 11 video highlights
Stage 10 video highlights
Stage nine video highlights
Stage eight video highlights
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Stage five video highlights
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Prologue video highlights
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Pictures
Tour team presentation, Rotterdam
Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special