Bradley Wiggins' 2011 Tour de France campaign is off to an ideal start after two stages in the country's west over the weekend.
"At the moment it's looking good, and it's been a fantastic start to this Tour de France," Team Sky's captain said yesterday. "A complete contrast to last year's Tour de France."
He lost time in the prologue time trial last year in Rotterdam, a leg where he should have gained time on rivals Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck. Instead, Wiggins, two-time Olympic gold medallist in the individual pursuit, lost 29 seconds to Contador.
The remaining 20 stages were below par for Wiggins, but he still managed 24th overall by Paris.
Twelve months on, Wiggins is telling a different story.
He now works with a coach instead of making his own training plans and spent quiet a bit of time training at altitude. So far this season, he placed third in Paris-Nice, won the TT stage at Bayern-Rundfahrt, the Critérium du Dauphiné, and the British championships road and time trial titles.
Over the weekend, his run continued.
Wiggins finished with all of his rivals, bar Cadel Evans, on the opening stage. Yesterday, Team Sky lost four seconds to Garmin-Transitions, but put its leader on par or ahead of his rivals.
Yesterday, Wiggins gained eight seconds on Robert Gesink (Rabobank), 24 seconds on Contador (Saxo Bank) and 53 seconds on Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Bradley Wiggins warms up for the team time trial with his Sky team-mates
"Everyone played their role," Wiggins added of the team time trial. "My role was to keep the pace in the final when the wind was at its greatest. Everyone from [Rigoberto] Urán to Simon Gerrans, the little climbers in the team - everyone played their part it."
Sky's Xabier Zandio and Christian Knees lost contact early into the 23-kilometre stage.
"We didn't tell the team to slow up for them, we went on with seven," race coach Bobby Julich told Cycling Weekly.
"I wish we could have had one more guy to do one more strong pull. When you lose by four seconds, you know you didn't do much wrong. When you did everything right, you can't complain."
Wiggins' next test will be tomorrow's leg to Mûr-de-Bretagne, a slight uphill finish. He'll then face Super-Besse on Saturday and next week, the race's first high mountain stages.
"I haven't looked that far ahead," Wiggins said.
"It's been a fantastic start for the team. We're just really enjoying it at the moment and looking forward to the next few days."
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Tour de France 2011: Teams, riders, start list
Tour de France 2011: Official start list
Tour de France 2011: Who's riding?
Tour de France 2011: Team guide
Tour de France 2011: Stage reports
Stage two: Garmin win team time trial to put Hushovd in yellow
Stage one: Gilbert blasts to victory as Tour gets off to spectacular start
Tour de France 2011: Highlights videos
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Tour de France 2011: Photo galleries
Stage two photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011 team time trial training photo gallery by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team press conferences by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2011 LIVE: CW's text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2011: Archive videos
Video: 2003 Centenary Tour
Video: Lance Armstrong retrospective
Video: Behind the scenes at the Tour
Video: Guerini's 1999 stage win
Video: Thrills and spills at the Tour
Video: Armstrong in 1999
Video: The Indurain years
Video: Ladies of the Tour
Video: Best of bizarre
Tour de France 2011: TV schedule
British Eurosport Tour de France 2011 TV schedule
ITV4 Tour de France 2011 TV schedule
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France: The jerseys, what they are and what they mean
Potted history of the Tour de France
The closest Tours in history
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Tour de France 2011: Older news items
Cavendish to start all three grand tours in 2011
2011 Tour de France teams named
Tour de France 2011: Route details
The mountains of the 2011 Tour de France
Cavendish challenging for up to eight stages in 2011 Tour
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